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December 2006: the Massive, Deadly Storm a Year Before the Big One

Published 08/03/20 at 7:24 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

December 2006: the Massive, Deadly Storm a Year Before the Big One

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(Oregon Coast) – December 2007 is a date that will go down in infamy on the Oregon coast: the Great Coastal Gale of ‘07. It left enormous amounts of unprecedented damage up and down the coastline, cut off power for over a week in some spots, and began a set of storms that scoured out so much sand startling new things were found. (Above: Arch Cape during a storm).

However, a little less than a year before that monster tempest, another storm had shattered all records, leaving coasties thinking “What could else could be worse than this?”

Until that time, the big storm of 1995 was the yardstick by which all Oregon coast storms were measured. That changed on December 14, 2006, a Thursday. Early in the afternoon, the winds started kicking in and by Friday they had reached 100 mph in some areas.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection covered it “live” at the time, providing regular updates starting on that Thursday afternoon. Power started going out early in the day in various places, and numerous parts of Highway 101 were getting blocked by downed trees.

Lorna Davis, the head of the Newport Chamber back then, described it as like being like “Wizard of Oz out there” with so many heavy winds. Others in that area reported lightning flashes late at night, and one resident described the rain so heavy it “looked like fog.”

Much of the coast was affected between Thursday and late Friday afternoon, and power was out in some 120 miles of shoreline – from Astoria to Lincoln City. Manzanita to Astoria stayed in the dark the longest.

Downed trees locked down Highway 26 for awhile, along with 45 miles of Highway 6. Roughly 100 tourists and coastal residents were trapped in the coast range, with about 75 having to spend the night at the Camp 18 restaurant. Large amounts of snow also hit the upper parts of US 26, creating blizzard-like conditions.

Later on Friday, Oregon Coast Beach Connection tried to reach Davis for another update, but her office explained she was trapped in Lincoln City where she’d run out of gas, and no power there meant no gas pumps.

Depoe Bay was the last bastion of civilization at the time as power had not gone out there. Back then, Peg Leoni owned Trollers Lodge. She told Oregon Coast Beach Connection she was getting some local residents who were “refugees” from surrounding power outages.

“So far today, five from Lincoln City have checked in,” she said. “We've had a lot of phone calls asking if we had heat and what are our prices.”

While Depoe Bay was also got hit hard, it had its amusing moments, including the Christmas tree getting all its needles blown off.

“The red bell buoy that is normally anchored a half mile out is now close to the rocks opposite the 101/Bay Street traffic light,” said Leoni. “Our neighbors, the Overmeyer's, thought it was unusually loud yesterday morning. Well, it was right below their oceanfront home.

“Later yesterday morning it migrated north, past the entrance to the harbor.”

in 2006, agate expert and former head of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association Guy DiTorrice lived in Newport, and he had been through the storm of ‘95. He disputed the idea the 2006 storm was just as bad or worse as that one. The damage had not been as bad. That’s likely true, certainly for the central coast, as DiTorrice’s yard had been the landing place of a pizza restaurant roof back in the ‘95 storm. Parts of the north coast did get hit rather severely, however.

Still, the December 2006 event was a powerful, monstrous storm that many have now forgotten because what came later was much worse. Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

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