The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 began as Typhoon Freda that formed 500 miles
from Wake Island in the central Pacific ocean and became an extratropical cyclone
as it headed towards the west coast of the United States. It was one of the most
intense storms to every strike the Pacific Northwest since 1948. Wind gusts reached
116 mph at Portland’s Morrison Street Bridge. In Salem a wind gust of 90 mph was observed. In less than 12 hours, over 11 billion board feet of timber was blown
down in northern California, Oregon and Washington combined.
The estimated dollar damage was around $280 million for California, Oregon and Washington combined, with nearly $200 million occurring in the state of Oregon
alone. At least 46 fatalities were attributed to The Columbus Day Storm, more
than for any other wind storm in the Pacific Northwest, and injuries were in the
hundreds. A well-known insurance company called the Columbus Day Storm the
nation’s worst natural disaster of 1962.