OMSI representatives will be on hand demonstrating a small tornado chamber, a weather balloon, and a Van de Graaff generator. They will also lead hands-on projects to create a wind vane and a rain gauge. Guests will share stories from the 1962 Columbus Day Storm. The Red Cross will provide storm preparation tips.
On Columbus Day, 1962, the most devastating wind storm in recorded history to hit the Pacific Northwest, known as the “Big Blow,” caused major destruction in northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The extratropical cyclone, which began as Typhoon Freda, was the greatest natural disaster to strike the West Coast in more than half a century.
With wind gusts reported of up to 170 mph, the 1962 Columbus Day Storm was 125 miles wide and covered an area of 75,000 square miles. It caused at least 46 fatalities and hundreds of injuries, and destroyed more than 50,000 homes. Total damages were in excess of $200,000,000 (in 1962 dollars) in Oregon alone.
The then privately owned, and up for sale, Pittock Mansion sustained significant damage during the storm. A fundraising effort by concerned citizens spurred the City of Portland to purchase the mansion in 1964 (for $225,000!). It was restored and in 1965 opened as the historic house museum we know it as now.
Regular admission prices apply on Storm Day. Members and children under 6 get in fro free, youth (6-18) entry is $5, adults $8, and seniors (65+) get in for $7.