When Was The Columbus Day Storm

When Was The Columbus Day Storm? Historic Weather Event

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

During a memorable day, consistent gusts of wind were constantly interrupting thought processes. This day, known as Columbus Day Storm, is often a topic of discussion among people.

I clearly remember stories from people there, saying that the trees were moving wildly, power lines were breaking like small sticks, and the whole land was changing into a big show of nature’s power.

But when was the Columbus Day storm? 

Today, I’ll share some information about that important day when the weather became the main event and the Columbus Day Storm made its forever mark in history.

When Did The Storm On Columbus Day Happen?

trees blowing in hurricane

The Columbus Day Storm struck the northern California coast on Friday, October 12, 1962. 

Emerging from the Pacific Ocean [1] around five hundred miles north of Wake Island, the storm’s origins date several days before its devastating impact. 

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” 

Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch Painter

This storm is a powerful example of nature’s strength, showing how it can affect our surroundings in a big way. 

So, it’s important to be ready for such strong forces that can change things quickly. But what are the five possible reasons why Columbus Day should not be celebrated?

How Long Did the Storm on Columbus Day Last?

The Columbus Day Storm of 1962, the West Coast’s most intense windstorm, raged 24 hours from Northern California to southern British Columbia. 

The wind was incredibly strong, gusting over 100 miles per hour. Hence, this storm reminds us that nature can be powerful and change things quickly.

Find out why we should celebrate Columbus Day here.

What Was The Intensity Of The Winds During The Columbus Day Storm?

In the Columbus Day Storm, the wind was incredibly strong. At Oregon’s Cape Blanco, an anemometer that measures wind speed hits gusts over 145 miles (233 kilometers) per hour. 

Reports suggest the winds reached an even higher peak at 179 mph (288 km/h). 

“The Columbus Day Storm wasn’t just a weather event; it was a lesson in the raw strength that our planet can unleash.”

Howkapow Gift Site

These remarkable wind speeds highlight the extreme nature of the storm and its capacity to unleash forces that can cause significant damage and disruption.

Was The Storm On Columbus Day Classified As A Tornado?

House Destryoyed by a Hurricane

No, the Columbus Day Storm was not classified as a tornado. 

This storm, re-energized by a unique blend of meteorological factors, surged northward with a ferocity similar to a Category 3 hurricane [2].

While initially named Typhoon Freda by meteorologists and referred to as the Big Blow by many, it potentially stands as one of the mightiest extratropical cyclones ever to impact the western United States. 

Its distinction lies in its sweeping scale and intense wind speeds, setting it apart from the characteristics of a tornado.

What Was The Cause Of The Storm In Oregon On Columbus Day?

The Columbus Day Storm’s origins were dramatic. It erupted when the weakened remains of Typhoon Freda transformed into an extratropical system.

It merged with a strong storm zone off northern California, and this mix-up made the dying cyclone strong again. 

Beyond causing extensive damage to various types of buildings and power lines, the storm’s fierce winds also brought down numerous trees in the forests of western Oregon. 

The collision of these meteorological forces fueled the storm’s destructive power, leaving a lasting impact on the region.

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What was the most extreme windstorm ever recorded?

The record for the most extreme windstorm goes to Hurricane Patricia, the most intense storm in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. 

It boasted sustained winds of 345 km/h (215 mph), making it the most potent in the region and holding the highest sustained wind speeds globally.

Which storm caused the most damage in the United States?

Although not the largest, Hurricane Katrina of 2005 was the costliest in American history.

Its aftermath resulted in property damage exceeding $125 billion (equivalent to $195 billion in 2023 dollars), marking a devastating impact on a national scale.

What was the strongest storm wind speed ever recorded in history?

The strongest hurricane wind speed ever recorded belongs to the 1996 tropical cyclone named Olivia. Like a super-strong wind, this big storm passed by Barrow Island, Australia. 

It had winds going fast at 254 mph. No other storm has had strong wind since, making Olivia the record holder for the fastest hurricane wind.

What was the largest storm in history?

Typhoon Tip holds the title of the largest tropical cyclone ever documented. It stretched over a huge area, with a diameter of 1,380 miles (2,220 kilometers). 

What was the storm that lasted the longest?

Hurricane or Typhoon John holds the record for the longest-lasting storm. In 1994, it persisted for an impressive 31 days.

Final Remarks

Thinking about the Columbus Day Storm reminds me of nature’s strength. On October 12, 1962, this big windstorm hit the West Coast. 

In just 24 hours, it caused a lot of trouble from Northern California to southern British Columbia. 

Plus, the wind was super powerful, going over 100 miles per hour. The intensity of the winds during the storm was awe-inspiring. 

An anemometer at Oregon’s Cape Blanco captured gusts over 145 miles per hour, and some accounts suggest even more astonishing figures, reaching up to 179 mph. 

As such, the Columbus Day Storm teaches us that nature is a force to be respected, reminding us that we should be ready for whatever it might bring.


Kimberlee Johnson
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