The Winds of November

It's been 40 years since the wreck  of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the ore ship that went down in  a storm on Lake Superior near Whitefish Bay, Michigan  on November 10, 1975.  All  29 crew members  were lost.

The tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is immortalized  in the song by Gordon Lightfoot,  which was first recorded in 1976.  It is a tribute to the 29 men who lost their lives in that merciless storm, and  a  remembrance to all the other ships  and crews  lost on the Great Lakes. It resonates to all of us who face the forces of nature and the storms of life.  It is a song for the ages.

You can watch a live  performance here.

According to Tom Skilling, the storm  that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald  40 years ago had the force of a Category 1 hurricane--- sustained winds of over 80 mph, with freezing rain and 25-30 foot waves.

The winds of November  have  taken  many ships and lives  on the Great Lakes.  Here are some of them, courtesy of NOAA--

The Great Lakes Hurricane:--November 7-10, 1913---At least  258  lives lost, 12 ships sank, 30 others crippled

Armistice Day Storm: November 11, 1940--three large freighters and two smaller boats sank

Sinking of the Carl D. Bradley: November 18, 1958--33 lost, two survivors

Sinking  of the Daniel J. Morrell: November  29, 1966-- 28 lost, one survivor

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald:  November   10, 1975---all hands lost

The winds of November  have also meant  fast-moving storms  and late season  tornadoes in the Chicago area.

On November 12th, 1965, a tornado leveled portions of Will County, from Channahon to Tinley park.

November 17th  will mark two years since  the  Washington, Il tornado.  You can read more about it here.

And once again, a  major storm is predicted to  develop over the western Great Lakes on Wednesday night, bringing rain, thunderstorms, and howling November winds...


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  • I remember hearing that song in college and not knowing anything about the history of it.
    But my whole life I have had a very healthy respect for water and its power.
    Great post for reminding us of the power of nature.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks, Kathy! I remember that song from college, too, and I didn't know it was about a real event that had happened a year before. There is a Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, Wisconsin, dedicated to the Edmund Fitzgerald and many other lost ships. I didn't realize how many big storms there have been in November, either. Thanks again for reading!

  • Thanks for a vivid post. Even without clicking the performance, I can hear the song in my mind's ear as I read. (I was 12 at the time and even more serious than I am now -- it always stunned me.) The broadcasters may try to make localized trouble into big stories for all of us, I think, but you and Kathy bring up great points about healthy respect for the weather. Thanks!

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thanks so much for reading. Yes, the winds on Wednesday were gusting over 50 mph. Stay safe out there...

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