34th Anniversary – Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald
Hello and happy Tuesday everyone, I hope you are enjoying your week so far. Today marks the 34th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.
For those of you who don’t the the story, she was a ship that was lost in Lake Superior on November 10th, 1975 during a strong fall storm. The storm intensified on the evening of the 10th to produce hurricane force wind gusts that produced 15 to 20 foot waves – a true “Gales of November” storm. The ship was carrying 26,000 tons of ore and was destined for Detroit, but was lost 17 miles from Whitefish Bay in the Eastern part of Lake Superior. Here’s the short from www.boatnerd.com:
Captain McSorley of the “FITZ” had indicated he was having difficulty and was taking on water. She was listing to port and had two of three ballast pumps working. She had lost her radar and damage was noted to ballast tank vent pipes and he was overheard on the radio saying, “don’t allow nobody (sic) on deck.” McSorley said it was the worst storm he had ever seen. All 29 officers and crew, including a Great Lakes Maritime Academy cadet, went down with the ship, which lies broken in two sections in 530 feet of water.
Monster Low Leads to Demise of the FITZ
The low pressure that sank the FITZ was very intense, here’s the track of the storm as it moved from the Great Basin into the Great Lakes Region in 1975.
Near Storm Forecast and Decision Making by Captain McSorely:
The yellow line indicates the FITZ’ course, which started in Superior Wisconsin on November 9th. On November 10th, the forecast called for an easterly wind, so the captain sought to take refuge along the north shore, sheltering the ship from big winds and waves.
Winds Change Direction:
The low tracked north of the lake and the winds changed violently over the the west/northwest. The winds howled to hurricane force (near 90mph) which billowed waves to near 20ft. The change in wind direction, ultimately, exposed the FITZ to the big waves on November 10th. The red dots indicate the Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald where all 29 on board perished at approximately 7:10pm.
This was quite a storm, but a storm that is all too unique in the Great Lakes Region during the months of November. The “November Gales” blow when the temperature difference between north and south become greater. The waning summer heat and the building Arctic air collides over the Plains and creates storms that end up in record books. Tommorow is the 69th anniversary of the November 11th, 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard that killed a total of 154 people, many of which were duck hunters…
It turns out that it was my Grandmother’s 8th birthday. All she remembers about the day was that it got very cold, it snowed a lot and nobody showed up for her birthday party… she was sad. Sorry to hear that Grandma – Happy Birthday to you tomorrow!
Meteorologist Todd Nelson – WeatherNation