Columbus Day Storm 50th Anniversary Meeting 2 Weeks Away

Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and OMSI to host the Pacific Northwest’s premier regional commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm. 

Public invited to take a step back in time and “relive the storm” on Saturday, October 13th.        

“The Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is proud to announce the Pacific Northwest’s premier public commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm. Held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), the commemoration will feature presentations, videos, television broadcasts, audio recordings, historical photographs and memorabilia. Attendees can also enter to win a $300 Davis home weather station raffle. The free event is open to all ages of the general public and will take place in OMSI’s main auditorium beginning at 10 AM on Saturday, October 13th. OMSI is located at: 1945 S.E. Water Avenue in Portland.” 

“The Columbus Day Storm is the benchmark storm for which all other storms are compared to across the Pacific Northwest. The violent and deadly storm struck on October 12th 1962 with winds gusting as high as 130 MPH in the Willamette Valley and 170 MPH along the Oregon coast. Nearly 50 people perished in the storm.” Chapter President Steve Pierce says, “we have gathered together leading experts from across the Pacific Northwest to offer the public an event that will be remembered for years to come. We will take a look deep inside the storm, as seen through the eyes of the public and the Meteorologists who tracked it. We will present rare audio and video recordings from the night of the storm featuring late KGW Meteorologist Jack Capell and those who were present when the 600ft tall KGW transmitter tower fell to the ground. We will also feature several survivor stories and plenty of photographs, some of which have rarely been seen publicly. Finally, we will take a look at the chances of seeing a similar storm in the future. The public is encouraged to attend this event and bring along anyone who may have a harrowing personal story to share or memorabilia item to display. The demographic of folks who are old enough to remember this tragic storm is shrinking with time and it would be great if these folks would attend this event and share a memory with younger generations.”

Formal Commemoration Ceremony Lineup

Welcome & Opening Remarks
Steve Pierce, Oregon AMS President

Headline Technical Presentation
National Weather Service, Portland
“How the storm formed and where it tracked”

Supporting Presentations
Jim Little, Meteorologist – Oregon Department Forestry
“Broadcast media coverage of the storm”

George Miller, Meteorologist Retired – National Weather Service
“Columbus Day-Type Storms: Have They Occurred in the Past? Will They Occur Again?”

Brian MacMillan, Meteorologist / Reporter  – KPTV Ch. 12 Portland
“The damage, the survivor stories (video)”

Wolf Read, Windstorm Expert / PhD Candidate (University of British Columbia)
“A climatological perspective – return cycles of powerful storms to strike the Pacific NW.”

Audience Question/Answer Session with Presenters

Raffle – Davis Weather Station & More

Please note — OMSI’s main auditorium will hold approximately 300 guests. Please arrive early in order to be assured a seat. Once standing room capacity has been met, the only additional viewing area will be from the hallway outside. For complete meeting details, including overnight accommodations in and around Portland, please see the Oregon AMS web site at:

Who is the Oregon AMS? The Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) was founded in 1947 and is the single largest local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in the country, with 170 members. The national headquarters of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has approximately 130 active local chapters across the country. The Oregon AMS chapter normally hosts eight monthly meetings from September to June that are free and open to all ages of the general public. The Oregon AMS welcomes the public to become chapter members for just $10 per year. The Oregon AMS chapter mission statement reads, “The purpose of this society shall be to advance professional ideals in the science of meteorology and to promote the development, exchange, and application of meteorological knowledge.” Our meetings are always found on our web site:

75 Responses to Columbus Day Storm 50th Anniversary Meeting 2 Weeks Away

  1. Safe to say we are now into drought criteria? If not we might be fairly soon. 6z GFS was BONE dry throughout the entire run.

    • W7ENK says:

      No, not quite. Most areas in Western Oregon closed out the water year with a surplus of +1 to +4 inches — some areas less, some more. I’m pretty sure that –7.23 number at PDX shown on the map below is an error.

      Even on the East side, there were a few surplus areas, but the deficiencies weren’t all that outstanding. You’d have to go into extreme Southern Oregon and then SE into Nevada before you began to find drought conditions.

    • W7ENK says:

      And that –24.80 on the Central Oregon coast (what is that, Florence?) has GOT to be an error.

    • If the PNW goes through November without much mountain snow then we might be in trouble.

    • Well, I guess I am merely going by the fact that all the yards around here are yellow, brown, and dead. I see some even the grass is dying off so quickly yards are becoming dirt. I don’t recall that since I was a kid. Also the Sandy River is really low. Oh and it hasn’t rained since? I can’t remember it was a morning with some t-storms. Models show a lot of dry, offshore flow coming which is only going to further exacerbate the situation.

  2. bgb41 says:

    9/30/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:91 at AGNESS2( 247 ft) & RED MOUND(1753 ft) & DW5789 Eagle Poi(1463 ft)
    Low: 68 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:54 at NERRS MET SITE A(10 ft) & MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 25 at Mazama (4590 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 56 degrees
    KLAMATH NWR (82/26 ) (4531 ft )

  3. Robert in Hazel Dell says:

    Don’t forget to check/mark/log/reset your weather stations for rain totals tonight! October 1st begins the 2012-2013 water year.

  4. paulbeugene says:

    Still looking dry for next 10 days. Looked back at historical data over some morning caffeine….have to consider 1929. For the period July through November, Corvallis got only 1.25 inches of rain. Rain did come in December, followed by exceptionally cold January.
    According to the ENSO list I used, 1929 was an el nino year. PDO then was sort of +/-.

  5. Mr Data says:

    What the God (beep* hell is going on at Western to make you sign up instead of just viewing it as a gust?

    Is this another conspiracy against me?

  6. Mr Data says:

    Nobody has answered as to why Western Weather won’t allow guests to view forums without being forced sign in.

    I am very disappointed by all this.

  7. bgb41 says:

    9/29/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:91 at AGNESS2( 247 ft) & ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft)
    Low: 66 at John Day River B(305 ft) & Celilo, East of(225 ft) & RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:54 at NERRS MET SITE A(10 ft)
    Low: 26 at KLAMATH NWR (4531 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 54 degrees
    KLAMATH NWR (80/26 ) (4531 ft )

  8. *BoringOregon* says:

    I heard rob talk about a big wind event coming up soon any more info on that I can get. Would love to see that !!??

    • East wind is still coming next week but nothing significant

    • Models had shown that a few days ago but since that time they have backed off on a very strong event, but it is still going to be gusty. The reason is it appears the cold high pressure isn’t going to settle down into Montana rather remain further east into the northern Plains. Unless something changes over the next 2 days this won’t be a tremendous event or anything.

      With that being said 12km 3-7 day Cross Section does show a long period of gusty east winds coming.

    • *BoringOregon* says:

      Well that’s not what I wanted to hear 😦

  9. W7ENK says:

    A series of fliers I’ve seen floating around at work this last week… I wonder if they’re gearing up for something big???
    (click on the dates to view)

    Remembering storms in PGE’s history

    October 12, 1962

    December 12, 1995

    Cecember 26, 1996

    December 14, 2006

  10. W7ENK says:


    This has been the driest Jul-Aug-Sep period on record in Portland, with only 0.25″ of rain to close out the final three months of the water year. The three next driest JAS periods (as seen in this snap from KOIN 6) were:

    1991 – 0.79″
    1967 – 0.76″
    1952 – 0.51″

    Those three years went on to have incredibly crappy, inactive winters. No significant windstorms, no accumulating snowfall, just lots and lots of boring doldrums (according to tonight’s KOIN 6 met).

    Stock up on your sanity now while you still can, before we lose this sun. You’re gonna need it!! 😦

    • Punxsutawney aka HIOPHIL says:

      1991 is a bad analog. We were in the middle of a strong El-Nino at this point, so I would discard it. And 1991 was in the middle of a +PDO period.

      1967 is better, more of a neutral year, with I believe slightly negative SST’s. And 1967 – 68 had at least 8″ of snow in Hillsboro. I’m too lazy to log onto my work server and get the # for PDX. And I’ve heard 1967 mentioned by at least one “Expert” as a good analog for this year. But in 1967 October was quite wet and I’m not seeing that at the moment.

      1952 is the year I feel is the best match at the moment, though I’m not expecting 80’s and 90’s next week like we had the first week on Oct 1952, and an 83 on the 16th out here. But even ’52 isn’t a perfect match as it was more a + Enso neutral year going to not quite a Nino in 1953. 1952 was lousy for snow other than Hillsboro at least had 1.5″ in Mid February 1953. Maybe not a complete “looser” winter then.

    • W7ENK says:

      Probably true, but I didn’t try to vet KOIN’s claims. I too seem to recall much buzz about 1968 being epic snowy, but I don’t know if that was early or late 1968.

    • Punxsutawney aka HIOPHIL says:

      I understand, I suspect it’s a lot more complicated than any of us can really get our minds around.

      1968 – 69 was epic. And it started by mid August. I was at Crater Lake getting snowed on and Thunderstorms at some point in late August. I think that’s still the wettest August at KHIO at over 3″ of rain. Above average rainfall every month from Aug to January of 69 with an huge arctic blast and snowfall in late December here, and the famous 3′ snow in Eugene.

      Love to see that again.

    • For snow lovers, the winter of 1968-69 was a dream come true. What made it great was there were multiple episodes of cold/snow periods. PDX recorded its coldest high temp (Dec 30, 1968) ever along with an all-time record low for the state of Wash…..That plus the 30+ inches of snow at Eugene was incredible……Would love a repeat of that winter…..

    • Emily Waldman says:

      My mother talks about winter of 1968-69! They had to shovel snow off the roof of their house in Spokane so it wouldn’t collapse! I’ve seen the pics crazy

    • …columbus day storm, 1962; xmas floods, 1964; an earthquake or two around then… then got hit with 68-69 winter..what a great time to be alive!!!…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      My mother still talks about January 69 (when she was pregnant with me) in the Hood River Valley. And I’ve seen their pictures of the fruit trees totally crushed by the severe ice storm. A huge winter for cold, snow, and ice.

    • W7ENK says:

      You’re all reminiscing about 1968-1969, but the analog I mentioned above was 1967. Perhaps next winter will be epic then, but certainly not this one coming… if there’s anything to be said about analogs.

  11. josh says:

    nice cold air going to be hitting the heart of the country soon i wonder when are first strong cold front will blow through here the sun and dryness does not want to give up which im alright with just wish we were having some colder mornings in the 30s not 40s and 50s

    • W7ENK says:

      CAPITAL LETTERS, commas, periods, apostrophes… ellipsis…

      For the love of GOD, please, learn how to use these devices!!! Geeeeeeezzzz!!!
      :incredibly appalled:

      Just don’t post until you’ve mastered punctuation, good Lord! 😯

    • By middle school, at least…… but this is the texting generation so you dont have to follow the rules and the sentence can run in to the next thot like i was saying just because it is like 90 out but maybe tomorrow it will be 70 so 50s 60s or whatever and who cares about grammer and speling anyways?

    • Mr Data says:

      And you never even answered Josh’s question. Hypocrites.

    • Emily Waldman says:

      I thought Rob was talking about that in his post above this one!

    • You want an answer for when the first strong cold front pushes through? When that persistent ridge finally breaks down which may take a couple weeks 🙂

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I agree, Josh, use some punctuation please, otherwise it’s very hard to read. It just takes a few extra seconds to add the periods and commas.

    • W7ENK says:

      Kyle, I never answered his question because he never asked a question. I didn’t see one single ❓ in there, did you?

    • gidrons says:

      As to the punctuation, be careful what you wish for.

      For example, there’s Richard on the Western forum:

      or for those who don’t want to sign in, here’s a short sample:
      “This, with more longitudinally, main cold being set to continue to move, still relatively more slowly east for probably the next 3 or 4 day at least, .. before most probably being caused to step up its main progress east then for a few days, before slowing again post the 29th. This, with where considering the general recession of colder air more northward daily that I’ve suggested above, it most likely continuing through the first five days or so of October.”

    • W7ENK says:

      I read Western once, just to see if it really was the Zoo everyone said it was. The first post I read must have been from this guy, because I remember immediately thinking he sounded like a cross between Shatner, Shakespeare and an alien! It then took me three times as long to decipher what he was saying than it took to actually read his words (the first time), and I’ve never gone back since!

  12. Rex block like situation setting up with ridge axis offshore. Looks like maybe couple more weeks of dry wx, maybe a bit cool fall like in the valleys. Maybe Halloween before any weather of note develops at this rate. What on earth are the local NWS personnel doing to stave off boredom? Darts and pictionary gets old after awhile… Maybe they have some good Netflix action going on. Certainly no weather to discuss. Yawn…

  13. Mr Data says:

    This is what it looks like now which has never happened to be before so I think something big must have happened but I don’t know what or the moderators are just being jerks.

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  14. Mr Data says:

    Why do I have to sign in just to view the forums?

    Did something happen overnight last night?

    Two days ago in the morning I was able to view the forums just fine.

    Here’s a secret on navigating Western Weather I discovered.
    What I do is read the *last page* in order to get a feel if there is a bad day on there or not and if the day is good I’ll catch up on the topic.

  15. bgb41 says:

    9/28/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:95 at ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft)
    Low: 66 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:55 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 34 at CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 51 degrees
    ILLINOIS VALLEY (95/44 ) (1389 ft )

  16. Just got back from a couple really nice days fishing in Yaquina Bay.
    And if the GFS is right, we could be looking at more 80 deg days around here for the next two weeks. Nice.

  17. MasterNate says:

    This fall weather is incredible. I cant remember the fall being this dry with very comfortable temps and the charts looking good through mid October!!! This is the wine growers and gardiners year. Hope it lasts through Halloween then bring on the snowpack!

  18. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Hahaah! Whoa, double rainbow! (But what does it mean??)

  19. runrain says:

    I remember “The Terrible Tempest of the Twelfth” and will bring my book about it along.

  20. Mr Data says:

    Can someone confirm if it’s my PC or if they are having trouble viewing the forums too?

  21. Mr Data says:

    What the hell is going on at Western Weather that I cannot even view the forums to track the artic airmass?

    I want to continue to track the airmass but the forums won’t let me view it!

  22. About 30° and a little snow on the ground in Barrow this afternoon:

  23. Steve Pierce says:

    Yep, this meeting is absolutely going to ROCK!!!! Not only that but someone is going to walk away with an Davis home weather station just in time for another windstorm. 🙂 Hint hint!

    • Steve Pierce says:

      Uggh! This thing really needs a grammar checker for people like me who don’t proof read. 😦

  24. This is gonna be the best AMS meeting in PDX history. It’s very likely that the next Columbus Day Storm anniversary meeting will happen after most of us are 6 ft under. So there’s no way I’m gonna miss it 🙂

  25. W7ENK says:

    This is going to be a great meeting! Too bad I can’t go. I’d ask if anyone is going to be videoing it, but I’m usually the one who does that, so… 😦

  26. …too bad crown point is closed for awhile…

  27. This presentation looks incredible. I really hope I can make it to this!

    BIG east winds next week? Could be. I just looked at both 6z/12z GFS. First, here is an image off the 6z Extracted. I have been tracking east wind events for many years and I can safely say I have never seen Surface/850mb East Wind values this high. Even when Crown Point gusts over 100mph you never see 850mb values nearly this high.

    Next I just looked at today’s 12z WRF and it confirms a significant cross-cascade gradient.
    11:00 AM Wednesday

    What’s going on? A strong, cold Canadian high is set to move south into Montana. This coupled with a thermal trough is a good recipe for very strong offshore flow. I think 4km Cross Section model would depict 50+kt wind barbs. If future runs continue showing this we might want to keep on eye on this.

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