What does the Washington coast have in spades? ... great storms. And people are very interested in severe weather. How can we provide a wonderful education resource on this topic, give a major boost to the economy of the Washington coast, and offer a wonderful recreational experience?
Imagine a "Pacific Storms Museum" in Westport (or some other coastal town). A facility with exhibits on past great storms (like the Columbus Day Storm), explanations of the structure and nature of major Pacific storms, pictures and videos of strong events--perhaps even a surround-type experience for a strong event. An exhibit describing the effects of strong storms on the forests. A weather station with the latest readings. A room describing local shipwrecks. And, of course, a gift shop. This facility could also include an exhibit on tsunamis.
This museum could be a major educational and tourist attraction that would bring
tens of thousands --even hundreds of thousands--of visitors a year to Westport or some other lucky town...and could have a nationwide draw. And it could be an economic boom for the region.
But the fun doesn't stop there. People spend thousands of dollars to
go storm chasing in the midwest (I have a friend who is in the business...and it is booming even in bad times). Imagine storm weekends or longer in Westport. They could experience the weather themselves during the November-February season, enjoy lectures from weather experts and locals, enjoy special "storm meals" at local restaurants (perhaps even illuminated by storm lanterns), and stay in local B&Bs and hotels. Perhaps even field trips to see blowdowns or shipwrecks. I tell you..this could be a very large attraction, at least as big as Lewis and Clarke museum near North Head and the marine museum in Astoria....and probably much bigger. What do you think? How could this idea be improved? How could we get started on this?
The Washington coast have a tremendous resource--the storms--and my
intuition is that there is a very viable business model for a "storm industry" . Then as long as you have this free-spending crowd, there are lots of other things local shops can sell them..like coastal art, watercolor paintings, and yes...teeshirts. It has always bothered me that people drive all the way to Cannon Beach for a quality beach experience. Why not much closer and something much more authentic?
PS: Arthur Grunbaum, who leaves on Gray's Harbor, suggested a version of this to me a few years ago...so he deserves the credit (or the blame).