Friday, January 28, 2022


 Have you ever claimed something to be true and promptly afterward been shown up? The poor territorial governor of Washington State had this happen to him in 1880. He had just finished sending out his State of the Territory address in which he stated that the Seattle area has a mild climate and "ice and snow are almost unknown to Washington Territory" when it actually began snowing on January 5, 1880.


For most of the other townships in the Pacific Northwest, they didn't see the great storm hit their area until Friday, January 9, 1880. What is now believed to have been a Category 3 hurricane landed on the West Coast along southern Washington and northern Oregon. Somehow the extratropical storm (typhoon) formed deep in the Pacific Ocean but didn't follow the normal pattern of heading westward out to the islands. Instead it got pulled into a jet stream of cold air north of Seattle and dragged onto the coastline. Two vessels on the ocean at the time, the S.S. Oregon and the Victoria, reported an unusual and significant drop in barometric pressure, their readings only registering 28. 20". And in Portland, Oregon, the barometric pressure dropped to 28.56", the lowest reading on record. The same goes for Astoria - the reading of only 28.45" still stands as a record to this day.

Depending on which source you read regarding the Great Gale of 1880, or Storm King, as this hurricane came to be called, the region experienced winds from 70 miles per hour to 138 miles per hour. Most people remained inside, but there were a few hardy souls who were caught in it, and although there was thankfully minimal loss of human life, several heads of livestock were lost and buildings in Seattle and Olympia were smashed to pieces. Near Portland, over 500 trees measuring over 175 feet tall, were blown down, causing the trains to stop. Rivers overflowed with water, and the tide rose seven feet above normal. The Rev. A. Attwood, walking between Oakville and Turnwater, noted that "raging rivers" had formed from "small brooks" and there were many downed trees.

Seattle received 4-6 inches of snow, Tacoma 54 inches, and Eugene, Oregon 5 inches. Siletz, Oregon received 18 inches of snow. One newspaper, the Itemizer out of the Dalles, reported: "The storm of Friday was considered very severe here at the time, but since the reports of the havoc in other places, we have concluded that we had no storm here to speak of."

Here is a picture of the Seattle harbor when it was hit by this storm:

Although this storm only seems to have hit the shoreline as far south as Coos Bay, Oregon (where it blew a 3-masted schooner onto the beach, breaking it into two pieces) I have taken creative license with it and am extending the area affected by this hurricane all the way south and east to Grant's Pass and Medford, Oregon, for plot purposes in my work in progress, a prequel to my Brides of Hope Hollow series called An Abiding Hope. I can't show you the cover right now because it is part of a larger promotion that will launch in April, but what I can share with you is that this story will affect a young woman named Penny Burton from San Francisco as she is traveling up by train to Portland. When the weather turns nasty, the train stops in Hope Hollow (approximately 15 miles south and east of Ashland, Oregon) while the engineers and conductor try to decide whether to continue the journey. When Penny inadvertently becomes stranded in the small town, newspaper reporter Nathan Hoffman is there to assist her--in a rather unusual way. A marriage of convenience results from their unlucky encounter, a marriage which neither of them wanted but will learn is the best thing to ever happen to them.

Nathan will also contend with a few of the foes that appear in later books in the series, particularly books 4 and 5, with one of those foes being named at the very end of book 5, Hope in Her Heart. You can read these two books here:


On the Wings of Hope:

Hope in Her Heart:


Please also note that I have made a few changes to the book covers in this series in order to more clearly brand it as a sweet historical Western romance series.


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