White Hurricane of 1913 was Worst Great Lakes Disaster
hungeski | September 30, 2007 at 07:14 pmby
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31 cargo ships and barges stranded, twelve ships sunk with crew, 253 sailors drowned—that was the the toll of the most disastrous storm ever to hit the Great Lakes. The first November gale of 1913 started on western Lake Superior when warm southwest winds sped up on Thursday the 6th. On Friday morning a cold front started over the lake, bringing northwest gale-force winds behind it. By midnight Friday the gale had battered and pushed aground several ships, leaving shivering crews awaiting rescue. With a powerful high pressure area in western Canada wheeling arctic air southward, the cold front and its trailing gale marched over the lakes, reaching Cleveland at 3 A.M. Sunday. On Lake Huron that Sunday many sailors expected the gale to end soon, after a typical three day blow. But on Sunday afternoon a low pressure system from Virginia entered Lake Erie. Feeding on the cold air from the front, the low deepened and strengthened. The low may have further strengthened by getting under and in phase with a sharp southern dip in the jet stream. So the northwesterly gale, with its 48 mile-per-hour (77 km/h) winds, did not blow out. Instead, its winds went to the northeast and sped to near-hurricane force at 70 miles-per-hour (113 km/h). The storm belted land and lake, from Superior to Erie, with wind and snow, and came to be called the “White Hurricane”. On southern Lake Huron, the evening of Sunday the 9th, sailors found 35-foot (11 m) waves, blinding snow, and winds gusting to 90 miles-per-hour (145 km/h).
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