Saturday November 10 at 5PM John Dodge presents A Deadly Wind, a comprehensively researched account of the Columbus Day Storm that spread destruction across the West in 1962. It begins with a puff of wind out on the sea, gains speed becoming Typhoon Freda somewhere around Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Back in 1962 not too many systems were keeping track of storms; that nifty Doppler radar was not around yet. The Navy kept track, they had an investment in expensive ships and wanted to know if Mother Nature was planning on tossing them around like toys anytime soon, so they could make haste to move the ships out of the path of her fury. Bill Bruder was a young chap flying out of Guam tracking Typhoon Freda, ready to alert his superior officers if she showed an inclination to play rough with the Navy’s ships. As Typhoon Freda lost speed, she was still not acting right, due to her unusual nature Bruder suspected she might be dangerous to the mainland; he radioed his superior officers to ascertain if they might like the crew to keep tracking the storm. They were not as concerned, told him to head back to base. Bruder was a 20 year old recruit fresh out of training, he didn’t have much more than a hunch to go on; there was nothing he could do when given the order to stand down. Bruder’s hunch proved tragically accurate.
On October 12, 1962 a storm of immense power hit landfall. UW Professor Cliff Mass called it “the strongest nontropical windstorm to strike the West Coast in recorded history” and compared it to Superstorm Sandy. The Columbus Day storm wreaked havoc with winds in excess of 150 miles an hour. Any way you consider it, this was a huge storm. Dodge gives plenty of background on the causes of storms to keep science buffs happy. He contrasts the forecasting abilities of the1960’s with current day, detailing the changes. However he also covers the personal experiences of those who either rode out the storm or perished. Including the author, who watched the power of the storm in the home of friends. There are many stories of individual bravery and tragedy. In Tillamook a young farmer suffers the loss of his herd of cattle as the barn collapses, many barns across the west went down in that furious wind. A young boy is mauled by a confused young lion let loose when the storm destroyed her enclosure. In Portland bridges were shut as they swayed precariously. In Seattle visitors to the World’s Fair were advised to leave the fairgrounds and seek shelter. All across the West there were falling trees, downed powerlines, and general chaos. Photos give shocking proof of the destruction.
The Columbus Day storm is a part of Western history. Dodge gives both the intimate stories of those who lived through the storm along with the big picture of the damage it caused and the aftermath of cleaning up all those collapsed buildings, downed trees, and the effects of the general mayhem the storm caused. John Dodge’s A Deadly Wind has it all; researched history, science of storms, and the stories of plucky survivors
Sign up to attend this free event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org calling 541-593-2525 or stopping by Sunriver Books & Music. There will be drawings for prizes and refreshments. More information is available at sunriverbooks.com.