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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Why don’t hurricanes hit the west coast?

1/13/2021 (Permalink)

thermal temperature map of north america, more blue and green colder readings in the pacific and warmer in the atlantic Ocean temperatures in North America (NOAA Image)

Living in the Portland Metro and surrounding areas can sometimes feel like a temperate oasis from natural disasters. While earthquakes are possible, we don’t experience them as often as Californians do. Snow and ice storms are our most common dangerous weather events, as well as wind and thunderstorms. Here at SERVPRO of Tigard/Tualatin, we understand how damaging wind and thunderstorms can be for residents. But what about Hurricanes?

If you’ve ever wondered why hurricanes seem to never hit the West Coast of the United States, we have some answers. First, you have to consider ocean temperature and currents. As you can see in the NOAA thermal image to the right, the Pacific Ocean differs from the Atlantic, which has a warm current that originates in the Caribbean and travels nearly the entire length of the East Coast. Warm surface waters is a large contribution to the development of hurricane activity. 

On the West Coast, the Pacific Ocean is simply too cold to develop or maintain hurricane activity. On occasion, Oregon and the west coast will receive a storm front that formed from the remnants of an Asian Typhoon that traveled east across the Pacific Ocean, however the power in those storms are diminished by the cool temperatures of our coastlines. While we can end up experiencing heavy rainfall and windstorm conditions from the remnants of Asian Typhoons, we rarely, if ever, see the force of those storms maintained as they near the American West Coast.

In Oregon, we’ll likely never experience something as severe as the hurricanes that affect the southeast and East Coast states in the U.S.. The type of elevated storm we may experience on our coast, however, is something like a recent event you may remember - the 2007 Great Coastal Gale. 

While not a hurricane, this 2007 storm event had a few conditions that made it significant: it was long in duration, had hurricane-strength winds, and had excess rainfall that caused widespread flooding in the region. According to the Associated Press, Pacific Power reported that this 2007 storm caused over 37,000 homes and businesses to be without power in Washington, Oregon, and northern California, and continued dangerous wind gales prevented workers from restoring power until safer conditions were established. 

While Oregon does not experience Hurricanes, we do experience extreme storm weather. To understand how you can prepare for unforeseen weather events, visit our storm blogs to see the resources and guidance we’ve gathered.

If you experience storm damage, do not hesitate to contact us at SERVPRO of Tigard/Tualatin/Lake Oswego/West Linn and Beaverton. We’ve seen it all - and we’ve traveled the country to assist in the recovery efforts after hurricanes and severe storm events. We’ll make sure to restore your home or business with care and attention to detail. Call us at 503-684-5829

Sources: Nasa.gov, the Associated Press, Seattle Komo News.

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