PGE told us today that 140,000 of its customers lost power at one point or another during the Saturday storm. The peak at any one point was 79,000. Pretty impressive numbers considering the wind speeds were “low” for a windstorm. That was likely due to the leaves on the trees and the wet ground. That said, this was the strongest windstorm I’ve seen in October in my 23 year career here. In fact in some winters we haven’t seen a stronger wind gust the rest of the winter.
The chart above shows the peak gust at PDX each cool season (October-March). Yellow numbers are years where the highest wind gust was from the east (Gorge wind). The one red 55 mph gust wasn’t really a windstorm, but a quick squall that moved through the valley in mid-March 2011. It lasted all of 15 minutes. I should also point out that from 1995 to around 2006, the ASOS sensor used a 5-second gust, as opposed to a 3 second gust before and after that time. That means that to get a 60 mph gust (for example), the speed has to hit 60 for 5 seconds. So during that ~10 year period, peak gusts were reported lower than compared to before and after that time. For example a 45 mph gust during that period would show up as a 51 mph gust with the 3 second requirement. I just made up that number, but you get the idea.
As of 10pm this evening it appears there are only two small outages on the south side of Salem and those may not be from Saturday. Here is a chart comparing this storm to some others over the years. Thanks to PGE for the info…
Note that over the years the number of customers goes up…no surprise there. In 1962 there were about 280,000 customers, but now there are around 850,000. So the percentage is a better indicator of storm severity than the numbers when compared to 20+ years ago.
This time around it took less than 2.5 days to get EVERYONE back online…impressive I think. In 2006 it was 4.5 days. After that storm crews had to work in some areas that were frozen or a little snowy…no fun. At least this time it was 55-60 most of the time. In the massive 1995 windstorm, the last customers came back online in 8 days or so.
The granddaddy of them all, the Columbus Day Storm, took out just about everyone’s power…98% of PGE’s territory. Wow…the last customers came back online 14 days later.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen