"City Swept by Gale; Trees, Poles Crash," the Berkeley Daily Gazette headlined 75 years ago, Feb. 8, 1938.
"A terrific gale which blew at a 65-mile an hour rate along the Berkeley waterfront swept across the city shortly after 12:30 today and late this afternoon had left whole sections of the community without lights, power and telephone service. Scores of trees and poles fell before the hurricane blast.
"Shattuck Avenue motion picture theaters went dark at 1 o'clock and had to dismiss audiences. Several West Berkeley plants were forced to shut down for most of the afternoon."
Berkeley had warning from the weather bureau that "one of the worst windstorms in the history of the Bay Area was about to strike" and municipal employees had been mobilized at noon, but were hampered by power losses at the Corporation Yard.
Throughout town trees and power poles fell and shed roofs blew off.
"Fences were down throughout all parts of Berkeley," the Gazette reported. "One of the metal pillars of the dome on the City Hall broke loose and had to be tied to prevent it from falling."
On Shattuck Avenue a truck lost part of its cargo of ice cream cones that were "scattered for several blocks by the high wind."
At the Berkeley Yacht Harbor, where 185 boats were moored, "waves dashed high against the south seawall, but the harbor itself remained comparatively calm."
Two Junior Traffic Patrol crossing guards suffered cut
The next day the Gazette called the storm a "small edition of a Florida hurricane," noting that "Record wind speed of 100 miles an hour had been recorded on Mount Tamalpais."
Most power in Berkeley was back on by then, but many telephones were still out of service.
"An official survey showed that nearly 100 trees had been snapped off or had been uprooted," the story continued, and the UC campus "was strewn with debris from leaves, falling branches and eucalyptus bark ... A large oak at the southwest corner of the Life Sciences Building was uprooted and narrowly missed passing students as it crashed" and two eucalyptus trees fell near the Greek Theatre.
Otherwise "the groves of trees ... stood up under the gale like the California football line against Alabama," the paper stated, referring to the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.
Elsewhere, "the destruction of crops and orchards was tremendous," the State Capitol building was damaged by the wind, and at least six people were killed in the state. The storm struck the coast from Los Angeles to Eureka.
The Feb. 11 Gazette brought bad news of floods throughout California, including the Pajaro Valley and in the northern San Joaquin Valley on the Merced and other rivers.
Locally, "as Berkeleyans paddled and waded through the 16th consecutive day of rain this afternoon and had implicit faith in the weather man's prediction of more rain tomorrow, there was moist pride in the fact that the only persistent precipitation record that stands in the way of the present almost continuous downpour is the Noachian deluge."
Berkeley had 20.79 inches of rain to date for the season, and the local continuous rainfall record set in 1936 had been broken. "The weather men won't venture to say when anyone around San Francisco will see the sun, if ever again."
The next day, "rainbows were conspicuous through the forenoon," and just after noon there was a local earthquake.
At Camp Herms in the hills north of Berkeley, 100 people attended a ground breaking for a Boy Scout swimming pool on Feb. 7, 1938. There were photographs and a detailed story in the Feb. 10 Gazette.