History from the pages of the Forks Forum Jan. 19, 1950

Worst Storm in the History Hits on Friday the 13th Those who are superstitious had "their day" on Friday Jan. 13, 1950, when the worst storm in the history of the West End hit.

Worst Storm in the History Hits on Friday the 13th

Those who are superstitious had “their day” on Friday Jan. 13, 1950, when the worst storm in the history of the West End hit.

A strong northeast wind estimated at 40-60 miles an hour picked up snow with the result-a blizzard the first to ever strike here. Old timers remember the storm of 1893 which they say did not compare to Friday’s combination of snow and wind.

It was so cold and penetrating that a number of people had parts of their bodies frostbitten after being outside just a few minutes. The coldest temperature was recorded Saturday morning by Mrs. O.J. Ford, Government Observer, who informed the paper that the mercury hit four above zero.

The Coast Guard Station at LaPush reported 50 to 60 MPH wind gusts with the coldest temperature being 11 above. Local people reported that the Quillayute and Dickey rivers were frozen over and that most all other rivers and creeks had ice on them.

In Forks according to the official weather report 29.29 inches of snow has fallen since the first of the year.

Blizzard causes drifts

On farms southwest of Forks-the Mansfields, Pages, Reynolds and other farms snow drifts eight and nine feet deep could be found. Most of these families were marooned until bulldozers were used to clear out roads. Drifts on the prairie east of Forks were piled high and it was reported that there were deeper drifts at Lake Pleasant and Tyee.


The Worst tangle of traffic was reported on Beaver Hill Friday when a big snow drift had the mail bus, freight truck, passenger bus, some state equipment and private cars marooned all day. The vehicles were eventually dug out.

Telephone Lines

All lines to Port Angeles and many of the local lines in outlying districts were out of commission. The wind and snow had toppled many trees.

Telephone overtaxed

Increased use of the telephone by housed-up people have caused the telephone facilities to become overtaxed. Calls have averaged 5000 per day in the Forks dial exchange.

Water Main Broke

The storm blew a tree down which fell across the water main near the dam. The creek which Forks gets its water supply was frozen over but was thawed by Sunday.

Power Short

There was an acute power shortage Friday and part of Saturday. Both General Electric Motors light plants are water cooled and the radiators on the two machines froze solid. Portions of Forks were out of power.

Barn Blows over

Wind and snow destroyed a barn belonging to W. A. Smith who lives on the Quillayute Prairie. Cattle in the barn belonged to Joe Wentworth, most were saved three were lost.

Vere Kennedy’s mail truck a new 1949 Studebaker was struck by a tree on the LaPush Road and is now bent in the middle.

Naturally the freezing weather froze and broke many water pipes and caused other inconvenience. For lifelong residents of Western Washington and for many others, it was their first blizzard and most of them don’t want to see another.

Editor’s Note:

I asked Jerry King, Forks weather keeper, if this storm was actually the worst ever and he said, “I checked the weather books and it was noted:  “On the 13th we had a blizzard. The snow drifted badly couldn’t measure snow, couldn’t see any distance. On the 14th lots of drifts.”  The records show we had 46 inches of snow, but if it could not be measured because of drifting it may have been much more.  I remember in 1954 we had 41.60 inches of snow and we had a lot of snow drifts that year as well.  If appears as if 1950 would be worst with the blizzard.  In 1954 the records only say very strong winds.”