WA & OR Coastal Storm, Oct 1950

Loss in Storm Heavy

At Least One Death Caused by Gales That Raked Coasts of Oregon And Washington

By Associated Press
Gale-force winds raked Oregon and Washington Thursday night and early Friday, claiming at least one life and causing widespread damage.

A $600,000 mill fire in Cottage Grove, Ore., may have been caused by the storm.

Bill Williamson, about 21, died at Grants Pass early Friday, victim of injuries suffered when a pine tree crashed down on the Pacific highway Thursday night and crushed a car.

The high winds roared from southern California north to Canada, snapping off trees, felling power and telephone lines and ripping at roofs and windows.

East of the Cascades, Redmond, Ore., reported gusts up to 72 miles an hour. Portland had gusts of 66 miles Friday morning.

The weather bureau continued whole gale warnings along the coast. The winds were dying down Friday, but the warning said they would increase again Friday night.

Power Circuits Broken

Gusts were reported up to 65 miles an hour at both Seattle and Spokane, at opposite ends of Washington state.

The Washington Water Power Company at Spokane reported the blow caused more trouble for it than any windstorm in history. It had a 150-man force out Friday morning to restore broken circuits, including several high-voltage line breaks. Falling trees and falling limbs were largely responsible.

There were 5,000 to 6,000 electricity users in the Spokane area affected. The service breaks ran from a few minutes to several hours.

Two persons were injured when a falling tree hit their car In Seattle. They were Prof. J.H. Makin of the University of Washington geology faculty and his wife.

Phones Out in Olympia

Olympia reported 300 telephones out of service because of line breaks. Fifty breaks were reported in Olympia’s power lines, mostly in the east section. The power circuit between Olympia and Elma was knocked out for a short time.

Seattle had a rash of broken power and telephone lines, uprooted trees and broken signs. At least one store’s plate glass window was blown in.

Small boats were blown adrift in Puget Sound. The coast guard went out for two that tore loose at Seattle. Several were reported adrift for a brief period at Bremerton. The navy shipyard was not affected, because it has its own emergency power supply.

The wind was estimated to have reached 65 miles an hour in gusts in the Richland-Pasco-Kennewick area. Five small private planes were damaged at airports there. Windows were broken in some stores and homes, and the civil air patrol tower at the Richland airport toppled.

The new Narrow bridge at Tacoma was reported to have faced the wind without a noticeable quiver.

Grays Harbor Damage Light

There was only slight damage on Gray’s Harbor, where the storm blew directly in from the ocean. Leonard Dickey, observer at Hoquiam, said the barometer reading of 28.77 was the lowest in his 10 years at the station.

Some fishing boats snapped their lines at Westport, on Gray’s harbor, but none of them was damaged. The prevailing wind on the harbor was estimated as high as 50 at the Moon island airport. The harbor got only .62 inch of rain in 24 hours-a low rainfall for such a storm.

Some power and phone lines were down in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

Bellingham, another city that at times catches strong blasts, reported light damage. Several utility poles snapped as wind gusts were reported up to 59 MPH with the barometer at 28.80.

Clark county and Vancouver were reported hard hit, with many phone and power line interruptions.

Klamath Falls First Hit

Klamath Falls felt the first of the storm Thursday afternoon when winds reached 60 miles an hour. Friday morning this was the damage reported from that area.

A few barns and sheds down; trees felled; many houses in the city with ripped roofs and torn screens; one store display window smashed; telephone service interrupted and still out in some districts; a three-hour power failure in the south suburban district.

South of Klamath Falls, on the Weed highway, winds of 70 miles an hour pushed cars off highways, drivers said, but there were no injury reports.

As the storm moved northward, Grants Pass caught the full impact. The Robert Williamson family, en route to their home near Rogue River, was caught by a failing pine tree on the pacific highway. Bill Williamson, a brother, suffered fatal injuries; Mrs. Robert Williamson suffered arm and leg fractures and possible spine hurts, and her husband was hospitalized with undetermined injuries.

A Grant’s Pass trailer house was shattered by a falling tree, and three were trapped inside. R. Forbes worked himself free and ran for aid. His wife was seriously hurt. The daughter, Jacqueline, 11, suffered a leg fracture.

Hospital Blacked Out

As windows, trees and utility poles were shattered, Josephine General hospital at Grants Pass was blacked out. A diesel engine was moved in for emergency power. Six radio hams set up communications for police and the sheriff. Loggers worked through the night clearing fallen trees from the highway.

The Lorane Valley Lumber company mill in South Cottage Grove was half destroyed when a blinding flash at 9:25 p.m. was followed by balls of fire racing through the plant. Heavy rain accompanied the wind, and Mill Supt. G.J. Lyon said the start apparently was from a transformer, shorted by rain or blown by a power surge.

Fire companies from Eugene, Springfield and Creswell joined the Cottage Grove volunteers. They were still pouring water on the blaze at 6 a.m. The headrig, resaw, one planer and saw shop were in ruins. Owner Warren H. Daugherty said damage was between $600,000 and $700,000.

In Portland, a 60-foot maple tree crushed two residential area garages. Phone lines went out.

Across the river, Vancouver and Clark county were hard hit. Phone and power service were interrupted. Northeast of Vancouver a power line went out with a tremendous flash seen as far away as Portland. The Washington state patrol said it had a score of calls reporting it seen over a wide area.

Near Beacon Rock, a fallen tree blocked Washington State Highway No. 8.

The patrol said power failures were reported to the Vancouver office from as far north as Kelso.

In California, one drowning was attributed to the storm. Scores were injured as trees were toppled onto automobiles and homes. Eight workers were hurt as a railway roundhouse roof on the San Francisco peninsula was thrown down on them.

The famed Golden Gate to San Francisco harbor was closed for 14 hours by the terrific storm. Ships could not enter or leave port because of the huge waves kicked up by the gale.

Daily Chronicle, Centralia, WA 27 Oct 1950