All Weather News

40 Years Ago, a Ferocious Storm Sank the Edmund Fitzgerald

10 Nov 2015, 11:45 am


Tuesday, November 10, marks 40 years since the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. All 29 men on board were killed as a powerful storm, known as the “Witch of November”, battered the boat. Of the more than 1,000 ships that have sunk in the waters of the Great Lakes, the Fitzgerald is still the largest to ever go down. The haunting story became immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Edmund Fitzgerald departed Superior, Wisconsin on November 9, 1975. At that time, a strong autumn storm moved from the central U.S. to the Great Lakes region. By the November 10, the storm underwent rapid intensification and ship observations showed winds out of the northeast at 40-50 mph and 16-18 foot waves. The Coast Guard’s final report suggested the Edmund Fitzgerald nosedived into a large wave. As the freighter began to go down, its heavy cargo shifted, causing the vessel to snap in two as it hit bottom.

Since then, the National Weather Service and weather technology has seen advances in Numerical Weather Prediction, weather communication, radar, satellites, observations and forecasts to help prevent disasters on the Great Lakes.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Monica Cryan
(Headline Image: Bob Campbell, Grand Ledge, MI via NWS Marquette)

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