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Great Coastal Gale of '07 Tore Into Oregon Coast 15 Years Ago - Video

Published 12/03/22 at 10:29 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Great Coastal Gale of '07 Tore Into Oregon Coast 15 Years Ago - Video

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(Oregon Coast) – For those who were around, it's hard to believe it's now been 15 years since the Great Coastal Gale of '07 came in and wrecked an enormous chunk of the Oregon coast and Washington coast, cutting off power for more than a week in some places and knocking down entire chunks of forest along Highway 26 (which you can still see). Trees were down everywhere, numerous roads were blocked and most passes between the valley and areas like Lincoln City, Tillamook and Seaside were closed off by major debris. Power was out from Astoria down through Waldport, phone lines were on the fritz in many places, and internet was gone for quite a few for a time. The storm was at least 48 hours of what one person called “like Hiroshima out there.” (All photos / video Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Today, December 3, is the 15th anniversary of the last day of that storm.

At the time, Oregon Coast Beach Connection was covering it minute-by-minute, as best as possible between communication interruptions. Though the bulk of the storm ended on the 3rd, it wasn't until December 6 that mostly complete travel to and from the coast was possible.

The minute that opened up, Oregon Coast Beach Connection headed out. Extensive video was taken, showing even more damage than the photos here. There are also some harrowing stories on-camera, like the woman in Manzanita whose small dog was picked up by a large gust.

There were murmurings of something big a few days before at the National Weather Service (NWS), but things got real when on December 1 the agency released a barrage of flood, storm wave, and wind warnings. Gusts were starting to be predicted in the hurricane range, at around 100 mph.


Parts of a roof filled an alley in Seaside

Afterwards, Bay City, near Tillamook, had reported a gust as high as 129 mph. On the southern Oregon coast (which didn't get hit nearly as hard), Cape Blanco registered a 113 mph gust. Lincoln City reported 92, and Rockaway Beach recorded a gust of 104.

There were high surf advisories, and eventually in some places waves as high as 40 feet came onshore. Seaside and Pacific City saw 10 feet eaten away from some dunes, among other places. Flooding plagued Bandon, Nehalem and plenty of other spots, and surf came right up to the cliffs at Agate Beach where it meets Yaquina Head. Governor Kulongowski declared a state of emergency for parts of Lincoln and Tillamook counties because of flooding.

The central Oregon coast didn't get battered too badly. High winds created plenty of power outages, but they weren't as long-lasting as up north. Bandon and Coos Bay were experiencing outages farther south, but none of these lasted for about a week as in Tillamook and Clatsop counties.

In Cannon Beach, around December 7 they had set up two large generators for the town – one was helping to light the streets at Arch Cape.

Astoria was without power for quite a few days and even ran out of gasoline, while fuel remained available further south.

Most areas on the northern coast had no street or traffic lights until power fully came on, with Manzanita apparently being one of the last. Power stayed out in Garibaldi and Bay City until about December 9 or so.

The most impressive – and rather frightful sight – was seeing enormous tracks of forestland bent over like matchsticks along Highway 26. These days ,those areas now look like giant clearcuts. They're not: the fallen trees were simply taken away eventually.

As Oregon Coast Beach Connection wandered Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita, it was eerie. Broken signs and windows were everywhere in Seaside. The Arch Cape Tunnel was rather disconcerting to drive through with no lights. In Manzanita, it was so dark you couldn't find your car when you emerged from the local pub – at least until another vehicle's lights illuminated the street.

We drove through one neighborhood in Seaside and found a man trying to slowly cut down a tree that had fallen on his home.

During the storm, we managed to chat with a few folks here and there. Among the harrowing stories was Keith Chandler at Seaside Aquarium, who had to camp out there and make sure the generator stayed on and kept the fish alive. At one point, during 50-plus mph winds, he had to lean out of a window to repair the bolts on the metal sign outside, as winds had started to unscrew them.

Jenny Maxwell was a correspondent for Oregon Coast Beach Connection at the time, and she had one of the worst horror stories. Winds eventually blew her windows out at her upstairs room, and then the rain soaked the floor so badly she partially fell through, breaking several ribs. She spent a few weeks recovering at her mother's home in Washington.

Two people in the Nehalem Bay area died because of flooding.

At one point, power was restored to Depoe Bay and Trollers Lodge Motel. Then-owner Peg Leoni told Oregon Coast Beach Connection their highway sign came back on, but was soon fried when a live power line hit it and shorted it out.

After, many thought it was worse than the Columbus Day Storm of '62, and for the coastline that's quite possible – certainly in terms of damage.

You can see some of the immediate coverage from Oregon Coast Beach Connection archives here:

12/01

Hurricane-like Winds, High Surf Warning on Oregon Coast Events leading up to the Great Coastal Gale

12/03

Storm Slams, Floods Oregon Coast; Power Outages Reported The worst of the storm set to hit the Oregon coast hasn’t even arrived yet, but already power is out

Oregon Coast Damage 'Worse Than Columbus Day Storm'  The region is in the middle of what many consider the worst storm ever.

Oregon Coast Begins Massive Recovery Effort Many still struggling with primitive conditions caused by a lack of phone service and no power, no showers.

12/5

Important Utilities Updates for Oregon Coast Residents, Travelers
(updated Dec. 7, 2007 6 p.m.)
An updated list of useful and important information for those still on the Oregon coast or those considering a trip there.

Oregon Coast Slowly Pulls Out of Melee, Some Phones Still Out The central Oregon coast is mostly back up and running and back in business, while the north coast is still in the dark ages

12/7

Spirits Good on Oregon Coast Despite No Power It was the days after that began testing people’s patience: three or more days of no electrical power, showers, phone use and even connections to the outside world.

Wild Stories Emerge from Oregon Coast Tempest (including video) then there were the days of darkness and no showering that followed. The storm and it’s aftermath have been quite an adventure.

12/10

Oregon Coast Tempest Coughs Up Wacky Things on Beaches While the tourism officials are quick to point how the area is “back and open for business,” the post-storm oddities have begun to pop

North Oregon Coast Town Recovers from Storm Drama Jenny tells her own painful story. There is a palpable relief present in the normalcy of people heading to their first Monday morning workday since the end of the blackout

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