Well, that’s over. Of course, I’m referring to the 2012 election. As you may know, my wife and I live in Iowa, which in recent times has been one of the swing states. That means our TV, radio, mail, and phones were inundated with reasons to vote for a candidate and reminders to vote. At 6:30pm on Tuesday night, the last political ad aired on one of the local TV stations. It was cause for celebration.
Other than the election, the airwaves have been dominated by talk of Hurricane Sandy. The havoc it caused on the East Coast and the destruction it left in its wake are sobering reminders of weather’s power. In the Midwest, we are accustomed to tornadoes and the awesome force they possess. But hurricanes are on a different level, particularly with the rainfall and storm surges they bring in tow.
With these thoughts of foul weather, I am reminded of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. On November 9, 1913, a pair of powerful low pressure systems collided over the Great Lakes, creating a monster blizzard-storm with hurricane-style attributes.
Storms on the Great Lakes in November are not all that uncommon. ”November Gales” (as they are often called) happen rather frequently. We’ve actually talked about it before. If we quickly fast-forward sixty-two years and one day, we’ll be at November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost in a very similar (though somewhat less powerful) storm.
The November 1913 storm, however, is considered the grand-daddy of Great Lakes storms. Most storms blow in, knock things around for a couple of hours, and depart. This particular storm did its worst damage over the course of sixteen hours. Snowfall around the Lakes was measured in feet, paralyzing numerous communities. Ice and wind took down power lines, leaving many of those folks in the dark and cold.
But the greatest disaster was on the Lakes themselves. Hurricane-force winds of 80 miles per hour created 35-foot waves that battered ships and crews without respite. Nineteen ships were sunk or destroyed with another nineteen stranded. More than 250 lives were lost.
Recommended Reading: Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald – The most famous of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.