100th anniversary of Michigan's White Hurricane
Sat, 09 Nov 2013 01:44:31 GMT —
It all began with a clipper, an Alberta Clipper, the edge of an area of extremely cold air from the north 100 years ago.
Ty wrote yesterday about the forecasting of this immense and truly terrifying storm, so tonight we look at the damage and rebuild.
Those on land faced a blizzard of tremendous strength, while those on the waters of the Great Lakes faced down what is commonly called the "Big Blow", "Freshwater Fury, or "White Hurricane".
100 years ago, 235 men aboard 8 large freighters and other vessels stood toe to toe with a nightmare, in a situation with zero chance of surviving, and no way to escape in lifeboats on waves over 30 feet high.
Imagine you are standing on a ship, and 30 foot waves are hammering the side, not one at a time, but 3 or 4 at a time followed almost immediately by another round.
The 8 freighters: the Isaac M. Scott, The Argus, the Hydrus, the John McGeen, the Wexford, the Regina, the James Carruthers, and the Charles S. Price among other ships, would find their final resting place by the time the storm broke.
The Charles S. Price would later be found flipped upside down along the coastline of Lake Huron after dawn on November 10th.
The James Carruthers, Leafield, Plymouth, and Hydrus have not been found and although it has not yet been made official it is believed the freighter Henry B. Smith was found this past June.
Nearly 40 shipwrecks are the result of this storm.
Digging out would take several days, while recovery on the lakes would take longer since the winds and high waves did not break for almost 3 days after the storm had passed.
Total damages for only the vessels was $5 million which today would be just over $118 million.
The city of Cleveland put in effect a movement to place all power cables underground, a project that took several years.
Although 235 remains as the official death toll for the lakes, the number may be higher since records for crew members back then were not always complete.
Modern winter forecasting is not perfect, but is far better because of the drive to increase our ability to understand and predict these systems so people will never go without warning again.
When people in the Great Lakes region think of shipwrecks from storms, the Edmund Fitzgerald is usually the first to spring to mind.
But 100 years ago yesterday, today, and this weekend, tens of ships and hundreds of crewmen met the end of their voyages early.
It is fitting in a macabre way that this is the end of winter weather awareness week.
This is our message to you viewers, never go on the lakes in rough weather, in extremely cold weather, and always have an emergency kit with you when severe weather is expected to strike.
As a meteorologist it is easy to get excited about extreme weather phenomena, so we work hard to make sure to picture the scene on the other side of the camera or keyboard and give you the best and most accurate ways to protect yourselves.
Stay safe this winter, stay warm, and don't forget the White Hurricane of 1913.