Forecasting the White Hurricane of 1913
Fri, 08 Nov 2013 03:33:08 GMT —
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Lakes "White Hurricane", a powerful winter storm that is blamed on taking an estimated 250 lives.
As a snow lover, I wish I was around when this storm pounded Michigan with wind, snow, and huge waves.
From a forecasting standpoint, however, I am glad I wasn't.
The forecasting tools in those days were obviously a lot less sophisticated.
That alone made this a difficult storm to predict.
In addition, the White Hurricane's evolution was quite unusual.
In the days preceeding the storm, a surface low pressure system organized east of the Canadian Rockies and dropped southeastward toward the Great Lakes -- a system we commonly call an Alberta Clipper.
Normally a storm system like this has southwest winds ahead of it, some flurries (or rain showers at this time of year), followed by a shift in the wind to the northwest with some lake effect snow behind it.
The system will then quickly exit to the east, with more tranquil weather to follow.
That's what mariners and weather forecasters thought this storm system would do.
In fact, The Detroit News called for just brisk to moderate winds over the lower Great Lakes with fair to unsettled conditions.
However, another storm system developed over the southeastern U.S. as the Alberta Clipper was taking shape.
This storm moved north/northwest towards Ohio.
The southern storm phased with the northern storm, creating a powerful wind field that pulled Arctic air from Canada across Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The newly-phased monster area of low pressure was slow to leave, keeping powerful northerly winds going across Michigan from November 7th through the 10th, along with waves up to 35' on the Great Lakes and lake effect snow in some areas.
We'll write more on the damage the White Hurricane caused tomorrow.
For your much more tranquil 7-day forecast for early to middle November 2013, click on the video.