The wild windstorms of the “bomb cyclone” that struck Curry and Del Norte counties on Nov. 26 were universally awe inspiring, no matter where you were from Cape Blanco south to Crescent City.
But was it the same experience for everyone? Not quite.
So, which locations experienced the worst of the storm?
The National Weather Service keeps track of not just wind speeds, direction and gusts, but also the rainfall, humidity, atmospheric pressure, temperatures, visibility and more. Samples are taken every 20 minutes.
During last week’s storm, Pilot and Triplicate staff members monitored sustained wind speeds and gusts from the National Weather Service monitoring sites in Gold Beach, Brookings and Crescent City.
And the weather service records weather-related statistics as well, which comes in handy for comparing weather year to year, and region to region.
Locally, the weather stations in Gold Beach and Crescent City are at their airports. Brookings has a monitoring station at its airport, but also at an agricultural monitoring station.
The highest recorded wind gust during last week’s weather was at the Cape Blanco headland - 106 mph - according to Marc Spilde of the National Weather Service in Medford.
The more southerly towns of Gold Beach, Brookings and Crescent City didn’t come close to reaching Cape Blanco’s officially recorded wind gust speed. (Unofficial reports on social media reported a 110-mph gust in Gold Beach and 71 mph in Harbor, but it’s unknown if those measuring devices are calibrated like the official sites used by the National Weather Service.)
Gold Beach’s data monitoring went offline for several hours, from 1-3:30 p.m., during a citywide power outage. That may have coincided with the worst of the weather there. Records show gusts of 69 mph in Gold Beach shortly before 1 p.m., with sustained wind speeds of 47 mph.
A remote weather station at Quail Prairie, inland from Gold Beach and 3,000 feet in elevation, recorded a gust of 74 mph during the period of time that official data monitoring was offline. While it’s probable that higher gusts and wind speeds were occurring during the power outage, Spilde said, “air loft is stronger over mountains and friction is stronger over sandy beaches.”
The data may be lost, but in Spilde’s best estimation, wind gusts around Gold Beach stayed below the Quail Prairie data set.
Crescent City registered wind speeds similar to Gold Beach. Gusts of 69 mph occurred around 3 p.m., with sustained wind speeds registering higher than Gold Beach, up to 56 mph.
Crescent City appeared to be in bomb cyclone mode later into the day, staying strong until about 6:30 p.m. with sustained winds at 40 mph and gusts of 60. By that time, Gold Beach had settled down to sustained winds in the 25-mph bracket with gusts of 36.
Brookings was somewhat sheltered, compared to Gold Beach to the north and Crescent City to the south. The highest wind gusts in Brookings were 57 mph, occurring from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sustained wind speeds registered no higher than 34 mph, and were generally quite a bit lower than either Gold Beach or Crescent City.
As for damage geographically, Curry County roadmaster Richard Christensen found that the Brookings area saw a number of uprooted trees and downed power lines, especially along South Bank Chetco River Road and Gardner Ridge Road.
“Curry County’s road crews were kept busy, but it wasn’t too bad,” Christensen said. “We were able to send crews home at a reasonable time ...”
Brookings-Harbor power outages lasted well into the night and beyond, for up to 2,000 customers. There were a number of downed trees and power lines on U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 255 to Carpenterville, just to the north of Brookings. More than 15 downed trees were reported to the Brookings Police Department dispatcher.
Gold Beach had several power lines down, leaving 1,700 customers in the dark for about three hours.
Crescent City-area residents experienced power outages that affected about 19,000 customers during the peak of the storm, according to Pacific Power.
The Ace Hardware store in Crescent City lost the roof from one of its lumber buildings, and downed trees and debris blocked roads and damaged vehicles, keeping county crews busy well into the night.