Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913

100 years ago today was the beginning of the Great Lakes Storm, the most deadly and destructive storm to ever hit the region. Also known as the "White Hurricane" because of the blinding snow that fell, the storm killed over 250 people, destroyed 19 ships and stranded 19 ships and some additional cargo barges. The storm raged for several days with a few lulls that only served to give false hope to stranded mariners. Most of the destruction occurred in Lake Huron. Wikipedia has this excellent map, originally from the USGS showing sunken ships in black and stranded ones in gray. Click for the original, more readable image.
The storm intensified and built up to hurricane force on November 9th. The US Weather Bureau only issued reports twice a day so most of this build up was not noted until too late. Cleveland saw 22 inches of snow and lost power for days as did much of the region. Breakwaters were destroyed in Chicago and Milwaukee.
There is a story on NPR's Morning Edition on the search for two ships in Lake Huron that have never been found. Another interesting account of the attempts by some crews to survive can be found in The Paragraph.

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