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Monday August 17, 2009

Weatherman celebrated or warning of 1962 storm

Jack Capell was a Canadian-born weatherman celebrated for his timely warning about a deadly storm that rocked British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest on a holiday weekend in 1962.

In an era before satellites and sophisticated radar, Mr. Capell relied on reports of strong wind gusts and dropping barometric pressure from ships off the coast. When reports from weather stations along the Oregon coast halted, due to damage and a loss of power, the weatherman took to the airwaves to warn Portland about the approaching storm.

He was the only weatherman in the area to correctly forecast what became known as the Columbus Day Storm, which killed 38.

Born in Hamilton, he moved to Vancouver as a boy and grew up in Seattle. He served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War.

He then earned a degree in meteorology from the University of Washington and was hired by the U.S. Weather Bureau in Portland.

Mr. Capell was diagnosed with primary lateral sclerosis in 1972 and spent the last decade of his life in near-paralysis. He was born on June 11, 1923, in Hamilton and died in Seattle on June 14, 2009. He leaves two sons.

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