People are fascinated with these weather, ocean, and geological phenomena--the large crowds on the coast on Saturday for viewing the large incoming waves illustrates this.
Add this all together and what do you get?...a major opportunity for tourism and economic development for our central Washington coastal community!
Stay with me now. Imagine a Storms of the Pacific Museum at some coastal location--perhaps in Westport or Ocean Shores. You enter the museum, perhaps with a soundtrack of a roaring Pacific storm in the background. One wing might describe the major windstorms that have savaged the region: Jan 1921, Oct 1962, Dec 07 are just a few that come to mind. Another wing has exhibits describing the impact of strong winds on the region's forests. Another area describes how big ocean waves are formed and reviews some of the large wave situations that have caused damage and loss. Another section would talk about how tsunamis are formed and tells about some major cases. A separate room could talk about the heavy rainfall on the windward side of the coastal mountains and the resulting floods. The shipwreck wing will tell about the hundreds of shipwrecks on our coast, while another room could document the dangers of the Columbia Bar. And more general exhibits on regional weather could be thrown in. And perhaps a room on our coastal fishery and the impact of storms.
Of course, there would be a gift shop and a nice place to eat. And lets not stop there...an observatory on the roof would be mandatory and a weather station on premises. And a screen with the latest coastal radar imagery would of course be included. Add a theater with a movie on regional windstorms. Want to make it exciting? Have a windstorm experience room with sounds, a blower system and background imagery.Viewing Tower At Westport Attracts a Crowd to Watch the Waves, Photo by Mellisa Brown
Such a museum would not simply be a hit. It would be a megahit and would became a major attraction that would bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the coast each year. Employment for hundreds, if you include the restaurants and hotels it would fill.
Now lets not stop there. During the winter, the museum would organize "storm parties" and would coordinate with local hotels and bed and breakfasts--filling many of them. For such events, local scientists, meteorologists, oceanographers, historians, and others could be invited to speak. There is a major industry in Oklahoma and environs for storm chasing...with a dozen or so firms selling "tours" for thousands of dollars. What we have is better and far more dependable.
Restaurants could offer special "storm meals." (have you ever tried "cyclone stew" or "beach-breach biscuts"?) We are talking about an economic boon for a region that surely could use it.
Now I should not claim credit for this idea....rather, the idea of a storm museum was first suggested to me by Arthur Grunbaum, a local resident and an dedicated supporter of the coastal radar acquisition.
I really believe this museum would flourish...but the local community would have to take it up and run with it. Perhaps a local Congressman (Norm Dicks) or one of our U.S. Senators could help find some of the support needed to get this going. Perhaps some stimulus funding could found. Other locations have created popular coastal museums (e.g., Hilton Head, http://www.coastaldiscovery.org/)...why can't we?