The Columbus Day Storm of 1962

posted in: Michigan Weather Forecast, Slim | 8

1962 Columbus Day Storm in the NW. CPC’s Mild Dry Winter Guess and Halloween Weather,

The picture was taken yesterday, shows just how late the color and leaf fall is this year.


In the Pacific Northwest the benchmark storm is the Columbus day storm of 1962. This storm was one of the most powerful nontropical storms to strike the U.S. It produced over two billion (2018) dollars of damage from northern California to Washington. This monster storm started out as Pacific typhoon Freda. It became extratropical and moved toward the U.S. West Coast. As it approached the coast of Northern California, it turned northward rapidly intensified. Rain from this storm canceled the sixth game of the 1962 World Series between the Giants and the Yankees. Over four inches of rain inundated the San Francisco Bay area.
The central pressure of this historic storm crashed down below 28.34 (Hurricane Michael fell to a reported 27.14) as it moved northward just off of the Oregon Coast. Some incredible wind gusts, especially for a non-tropical storm, were recorded. A gust to 170 mph was recorded at Mt. Hebo in the northern Oregon Coast. Cape Blanco saw wind gusts to 145 mph before the anemometer failed. The Naselle radar station on the southwest Washington Coast recorded a gust to 160 mph. here were also impressive gusts inland. Gusts reached 127 mph at Corvallis, Oregon and they exceeded 100 mph in the Portland area. There were wind gusts over hurricane-force were recorded in the Seattle area. The storm began to weaken as it moved northward off the coast of Washington before turning inland in British Columbia.
Winds of this magnitude can produce an incredible amount of damage. Western Oregon took the worst of what this storm had to offer. The Willamette Valley of Oregon was particularly hard hit. A majority of homes were damaged or destroyed. In rural areas, barns collapsed which killed livestock. In the Portland OR area transmitting towers for radio and TV stations were destroyed and some stations weren’t able to transmit for three to four months. The city experienced extensive damage to homes and businesses. Of course with so many power lines and transformers destroyed all across northwest power was not restored for several weeks. Many roads were blocked and impassable and several bridges were damaged
The Columbus Day Storm was poorly forecast by the forecast models of the time. We all know that can not happen now right???
The forecast called a much weaker storm with only scattered showers, with the storm turning into southern Oregon. A couple of meteorologists at the U.S. Weather Bureau in Seattle did realize that a significant storm was coming and a few hours lead time was communicated to the public.
All told, 46 fatalities were attributed to this historic storm, more than any other Pacific Northwest weather event.


A mild dry winter??? That is what the CPC in their updated long range guess are hinting at.

The updated CPC long range guess for November and beyond is now out. Note that in the CPC’s long range guess there are no below average temperatures in their guess for the next year.  There is however an area of below average participation in the Great Lakes and Montana  areas for the winter months

November CPC’s guess


And their winter guess


and their spring guess


Summer 2019 guess

And here is some information on past Halloweens here in Grand Rapids.


The other day  Mookie made this statement.

“Remember it snowing many times on or around Halloween and the trees being bare. Doesn’t look like the case this year! No snow and green leaves.”

I checked the NWS records to see if that was indeed a completely true statement. As Mookie left out the “I” and I don’t know how old or where Mookie lives I went back to 1950 I only used the dates of October 29th 30th and 31st  to see if that is a true statement. This is what I found

For October 29th at Grand Rapids 1954 was the only year of measurable snow fall at 0.4” there was a trace reported in 2015.1993, 1957 and 1952. At Lansing a trace fell in 2015,2011,1993,1968 and 1954. At Muskegon 0.1” in 1993, and a trace in 1968 and 1994.

For October 30th at Grand Rapids a trace was reported in 2017,2012,1993, and 1994. At Lansing 0.1” was reported in 2012 with a trace in 2017, 1993 and 1954. At Muskegon for the 30th a trace was reported in 2017, 1993, 1955 and 1954.

Now for the big day October 31st At Grand Rapids 0.4” fell last year 2017, with a trace reported 2014, 2012 and 1995. At Lansing a trace was reported in 2017, 2014, 1998, 1988 and 1954. And at Muskegon a trace was reported in 2017, 2014, 1996, 1995, 1955 and 1954. If you look at November 1st there are more years and more snow fall dates. But while it has snowed in late October it sill in somewhat rare. Remember the above is only going back to 1950 the all time record snow fall for Grand Rapids on October 31st is 1.5” in 1917 at Lansing the all time record is just 0.3” way back in 1875 and at Muskegon it is just a trace.


The average H/L for Halloween is 55/38. The record warmest Halloween here in Grand Rapids was 79° in 1950 (the next day the high was 81° and that is the warmest day on record for November here at Grand Rapids) the coldest low recorded on the 31st is 20° 1988 the coldest maximum was just 32 in 1917. The warmest minimum was a mild 61 in 1974, 1917 was the snowiest when 1.5” fell. The most rain to fall was 1.24” in 1982.  Last year the H/L was 41/33 and there was 0.4” of snow fall last year. That is the 2nd most snow fall for the date.




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Jeff(Portland)INDYMark (East Lansing)Barry in ZeelandRocky (Rockford) Recent comment authors
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NO snow in sight !! Keep it coming !!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Another good read Slim! Can’t say I’ve ever heard of that storm before.

As for the Winter outlooks, I like how they are lining up as we get closer. 6 to 9 months out seems like a wild shot in the dark, but shorter term is generally fairly accurate a good percentage of the time.


Nother gloomy cool below normal day mid October 17th in a row unbelievable.. hopefully we get that measurable snow around the 1st November so winter will not start late lol!! Have a great Saturday Winter blogers!! INDY!!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

I love it!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

The incredible stretch of below normal temperatures just keeps rocking! Now up to 17 straight days and the rest of this month will continue that trend! Truely amazing! Who would have thought?

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

comment image

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

I can’t think of one person that would have thought. But I know one person that has been waiting a very, very long time to be able to say that. 😜

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)