Windstorm in Brief - December 12, 1995

  • Downed Tree - Corner of Capitol and Shipping NE (52K)
  • Closeup of Porch - Different Perspective (38K)

  • When news reports forecast the storm, most Salem residents were a little anxious, recalling the hurricane force winds of the 1962 "Columbus Day Storm". Everyone was hoping Mother Nature would not make a repeat performance. We were told to expect gusts in the 75 mph category, much less than the 1962 storm...but one never knows.

    Weeks of rain had thoroughly saturated the floor of the Willamette Valley and the trees of Salem's "Urban Forest" were very much at risk of being toppled. It had been 14 years since a major windstorm ("The Friday the 13th Storm") had hit Salem and mowed-down trees (and power poles) without much concern to their size or location.

    In the morning, television news told us wind gusts of 110 mph were hitting Sixes, Oregon, on the southern coast. We were to expect the storm to arrive in Salem, early to mid-afternoon. Yes, there is a "calm before the storm." The wind picked up and by early afternoon, we were getting the first of the strong gusts.

    Trees of all sizes were going down, yet many of the city's large, old trees stood through it all. There were trees more than a century in age that fell and many of the same vintage that held tight to their roots. Still, we lost some landmark trees, especially in some of the older neighborhoods and Marion Square Park. Happily, there was no loss of life in Salem.

    Power was out in northeast and south Salem through the night and into the following afternoon, and in some areas, longer. Market Street in northeast Salem, west of the freeway was a blackout for the hotels and restaurants through the night and into the next afternoon. Lancaster Drive east of the freeway seemed to have full power.

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