“Huge logs are floating past and we can hear what sounds like thunder but are the boulders being pushed by the rushing water.”That’s what Michele Veenker wrote when she sent this video of the normally tranquil Sandy River. The river runs down the slopes of Mt. Hood.
Downriver, near the town of Welches, Oregon, the raging waters actually washed away two homes on Sunday January 16, 2011. Locals say the river rose about 20 feet in 24 hours.This was all the result of a warm ‘pineapple express’ (in meteorology we call them atmospheric rivers) that moved massive amounts of tropical moisture from down near Hawaii into the skies above the northwest.
And because of strong winds that slammed into the mountains the storm dumped the most intense and longest lasting rain onto the slopes of Mt. Hood, melting snow pack at the same time. We did not and could not have a hurricane hit Oregon or Washington because our ocean waters are too cold to support them. But ditch the name and in some ways the impacts look similar.
The Northwest does have storms as powerful as hurricanes – just like the one that hit January 16, 2011
- 92mph – the peak gust that slammed Mt. Hood at elevation 7,000′ – that is hurricane strength – these gusts hit for 8 hours
- 9.51″ of rain – the amount of rain Timberline Lodge received from the storm – those are hurricane type rainfall amounts
UPDATE: As of early Tuesday morning January 18, 2011, there are still about 200 people stranded by water, damage & debris near the town of Welches. And the total number of homes washed away near the Sandy river is up to three.