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Columbus Day Storm - 50 Years Later

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on October 12, 2012 02:47 PM

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The Columbus Day Storm is generally reckoned to be the most powerful extratropical cyclone to hit the United States in the 20th century. Starting October 12, 1962, with peak gusts of 100 miles per hour, it rampaged through California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, killing 23 people, destroying 84 homes, severely damaging 5,000 more, and wreaking overall havoc estimated at $170 million.

What's this got to do with Reed? Nothing, except that the storm has sometimes been attributed to divine retribution after Reed defeated Columbia Christian College that day 19–7 on the football field.

It is also sometimes blamed on a mock crucifixion staged by Reedies at halftime, which is probably false; most sources place that blasphemous reenactment (in which a student actually dragged a cross along the field) several years earlier.

Reed magazine published an account of the storm and the crucifixion in 2009 based on the recollections of Coach Jack Scrivens [physical ed 1961–99]. When various readers offered conflcting memories, local historian Jim Kahan '64 conducted an exhaustive investigation and concluded that several mock crucifixions took place at Reed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but none matched the timing of the storm.

However, there is no doubt that Reed vanquished Columbia Christian College on that day, so the theory of divine retribution cannot be conclusively ruled out.