Exploring the Effects Wind Has on our Forests


By Kyle Smith, Washington Forests Manager

Early morning on Oct. 12, 1962 , one of the most powerful and destructive windstorms in recorded Pacific Northwest history hit Washington, Oregon and Northern California. The “Columbus Day Storm,” or “Big Blow” as it was soon to be called, was a result of the after-effects of Typhoon Freda that began out in the Pacific Ocean.  

Blowdown from Columbus Day storm that happened October 12, 1962. Hebo Ranger District, Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon. Photo by Wally C. Guy

Near our Ellsworth Creek Preserve in Southwest Washington, wind gusts on Oct. 12 exceeded 160 miles per hour, snapping trees like toothpicks and blowing over thousands of acres of forest up and down the coast. Twelve hours later once the winds receded, 46 people had died, 1 million people were without power and an estimated 15 billion board feet of timber was blown down.

Wind and Forests

In Western Washington, and more specifically within 30 miles of the Pacific Ocean, wind is the primary natural disturbance for our westside forests. Much like how forest fires are the natural disturbance in Eastern Washington forests, wind is one of the largest drivers that shapes our PNW forests and their ecology.


Original Title: Exploring the Effects Wind Has on our Forests
Full Text of the Original Article: http://www.washingtonnature.org/fieldnotes/the-effects-wind-has-on-washington-forests