Packing 150 mph sustained winds, a storm some meteorologists are calling the “biggest storm in history” will hit coastal regions of the U.S. this Saturday, generating 45-foot waves, and dumping multiple feet of rainfall across an area including three states and two countries.
While the nation’s media — even in the areas set to be hit by the approaching storm — continue to focus on Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole, a more powerful storm is headed for the Pacific Northwest with hurricane force winds cutting a 100 mile swath through the coast of Oregon and Washington.
The National Weather Service issued an extraordinary storm alert yesterday, warning against a. “worst case scenario, historical windstorm…that would be long remembered,” the alert stated. At that time, forecasters pegged the odds of the “worst-case scenario” landfall at 1 in 3. They’ve since darkened the outlook, saying the odds of a catastrophic outcome are 50–50.
So where did this all come from? A geographic area that — through the oddities of weather nomenclature — doesn’t produce easily-marketed “named” storms a la Matthew and Nicole. But the net effects are the same.
The remnant of Typhoon Songa has refocused into an unprecedented weather system comparable only to Seattle’s 1962 Columbus Day Storm, which killed 46 people with 150 mph winds and coastal flooding.
The 1962 storm leveled thousands of buildings from California to Canada and killed nearly 50.
On Tuesday, the NWS pointed out that the population and building density of the area has tripled since 1962, raising questions about the risk area residents face as the storm approaches — and whether anyone knows the storm is coming.