Gales of November
The mid November period has seen some very big storms in the Great Lakes region. Here is a list of some of the storms that have happened in Mid-November .
1913 The White Hurricane
One of deadliest weather event in Great Lakes history was the so-called “White Hurricane” of Nov. 9-11, 1913. Synoptically, this storm was very similar to the great blizzard of Jan. 26-28, 1978: a trough of low pressure moving eastward from Minnesota combined with a developing low over the southern Appalachians to create a super-storm over Ohio. The lowest measured barometric pressure was not as low as the 1978 storm (968 mb/28.61″ versus 955 mb/28.21″), but the storm’s effects were far more devastating given the fact that many mariners on the Lakes chose to ignore the Weather Bureau’s warnings. All told, 12 ships sank with all hands lost, and another 29 were stranded or washed ashore. The exact loss of life remains unknown, but was likely in the range of 260-300. Some of the ships lost were very large cargo vessels for the time of over 500 feet in length. Winds were measured as high as 80mph in Buffalo, New York, and 79mph in Cleveland, Ohio. On the open waters of Lake Erie and Lake Huron, wind gusts over 90 mph and waves estimated to 35-feet high were reported.
In Cleveland a record 22.2″ of snow fell during the storm, with 17.8″ falling in just the 24-hour period between noon Nov. 10th to noon Nov. 11th.
Here in Grand Rapids during that storm the high/low for November 9th was 30/25 with a trace of snow on the 10 it was 29/22 with one inch of snow and on the 11th it was 36/29 I have no reports as to how high the winds were.
1940 Armistice day Blizzard
Minnesota’s deadliest blizzard on record occurred on Nov. 10-11th, 1940. No other snowstorm in Minnesota lore holds as revered a status as this one. Many of the 154 who died in this blizzard were duck hunters who were taking advantage of the Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day) holiday and unusually mild late season weather. A classic Texas Panhandle hooker developed on Nov. 10th and traveled northeastward deepening to 28.65″ over Wisconsin on Nov. 11th. In Minnesota temperatures dropped 50 degrees in hours and 50-80mph winds drove 12-27″ of snow into monstrous drifts up to 20 feet deep.
Closer to our area On Lake Michigan, 66 sailors perished when three freight ships and several other smaller vessels sank. Winds at Grand Rapids, Michigan gusted to 80mph in the eastern quadrant of the low-pressure system. An incredible seiche occurred on Lake Huron and, near Saginaw, Michigan, the southwest wind caused the waterline in Saginaw Bay to retreat as much as a mile offshore from Winona Beach. In Saginaw, Michigan, the river level fell an incredible 8 feet to its lowest level on record. Here in Grand Rapids we were on the warm side of the storm for the start. On November 10th, the high/low here in Grand Rapids was 49/40 and on the 11th we shot up to 64° but sometime during the day a strong cold front went thu as the low was 26° GR had 0.56” of rain and a trace of snow and get this we had winds of 80MPH during that time with wide spread power outages and damage. . The high low on the 12th was 29/27.
1975 the Fitzgerald storm
On November 10, 1975, a storm ripped thru the great lakes resulting in the loss of the ore freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior with all hands, 29 in all, lost. The ship was one of the largest ever to sail the Great Lakes with a length of 730 feet. It was transporting a cargo of iron ore from Superior, Wisconsin to a steel mill near Detroit. A powerful storm, although not spectacular relative to other November cyclones to rake the Great Lakes, moved from central Kansas at 7 a.m. on Nov. 9th to a position over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by 7 a.m. on Nov. 10th. The pressure of the storm fell to 28.80″. Winds increased to 60mph (with gusts to 85mph) from the northwest over Lake Superior and storm warnings were in effect with waves up to 20 feet reported from ships plying the lake. As the Fitzgerald approached Whitefish Bay near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, it made a final, but not alarming, report that it had lost its radar and was listing slightly. No further communication was ever received. It is speculated that the long ship, heavily laden with ore, was caught straddling a deep trough between two large waves and literally split in two, probably sinking within minutes. Here in Grand Rapids November of 1975 was a warm month. Between November 2nd and the 10th the high ever day was in the 60’s topping out at 77° on the 6th. On the 10th the high/low here was 66/38 and for the day the top wind was 59 MPH.
1998 Repeat storm
This storm occurred on the same date of the Fitzgerald storm of 1975. This storm was deeper than the 1975 storm. At the time the lowest barometric pressure (28.43″) ever recorded in Minnesota was set at Albert Lea. However that record was short lived as a new record was sit for Minnesota of 28.21″ in Bigfork, Minnesota. The 1975 storm had strong winds but for most of the great lakes area it was a warm system there was very little snow with it. Note there was a good amount of snow in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where 12.5” was reported. In this storm we also were on the “warm” side of the storm. The High/low here in GR on the 10th was 60/41 we did have thunderstorms with 1.37” of rain but the highest of the winds came after the thunderstorms. Here in GR the highest winds was reported as 58 MPH BUT from 3 PM on the 10th until 5AM on the 11th the winds where between 45 and 58 ever hour. And even all day on the 11th the winds were in the 35 to 55 MPH range until after 5 PM so we had a period of 24 hours straight of Tropical Storm Force Winds here in Grand Rapids! I remember the 1975 and 1998 storms very well, In 1998 we lost power here at my house for several days.
While not in the mid November range a storm hit the Great Lakes in late November 1905 and became known as the Mataffa storm.
The Mataafa Storm of 1905 is the name of a storm that occurred on the Great Lakes on November 27–28, 1905. The system moved across the Great Basin with moderate depth on November 26 and November 27, then east-northeastward across the Great Lakes on November 28. Fresh east winds were forecast for the Great Lakes for the afternoon and evening of November 27,] with storm warnings were in effect by the morning of November 28. Storm-force winds and heavy snows accompanied the cyclone’s passage. The storm, named after the Mataafa wreck, ended up destroying or damaging about 29 vessels, killing 36 seamen and causing shipping losses of $3.567 million (1905 dollars) on Lake Superior. Here in Grand Rapids we were on the warm side of this storm as the temperature shot up to 67° on the 28th only to fall into the teens after the storm passed. One item of note is that here in Grand Rapids the winter of 1905/06 Grand Rapids recorded it lowest (recorded) seasonal snow fall total of only 20.0” you can take that any way you want to. The month by month snow fall amounts were November 0.1” December 5.3” January 5.6” February 2.7” and March 6.3” the biggest snow snowstorms (if you will) were on back to back days on March 18th and 19th 1906. The next winter (1906/07) was the 2nd least snowy here in Grand Rapids with only 30.0”
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