November's Fury

November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt5hjjx5
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  • Book Info
    November's Fury
    Book Description:

    On Thursday, November 6, theDetroit Newsforecasted "moderate to brisk" winds for the Great Lakes. On Friday, thePort Huron Times-Heraldpredicted a "moderately severe" storm. Hourly the warnings became more and more dire. Weather forecasting was in its infancy, however, and radio communication was not much better; by the time it became clear that a freshwater hurricane of epic proportions was developing, the storm was well on its way to becoming the deadliest in Great Lakes maritime history.

    The ultimate story of man versus nature,November's Furyrecounts the dramatic events that unfolded over those four days in 1913, as captains eager-or at times forced-to finish the season tried to outrun the massive storm that sank, stranded, or demolished dozens of boats and claimed the lives of more than 250 sailors. This is an account of incredible seamanship under impossible conditions, of inexplicable blunders, heroic rescue efforts, and the sad aftermath of recovering bodies washed ashore and paying tribute to those lost at sea. It is a tragedy made all the more real by the voices of men-now long deceased-who sailed through and survived the storm, and by a remarkable array of photographs documenting the phenomenal damage this not-so-perfect storm wreaked.

    The consummate storyteller of Great Lakes lore, Michael Schumacher at long last brings this violent storm to terrifying life, from its first stirrings through its slow-mounting destructive fury to its profound aftereffects, many still felt to this day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4044-1
    Subjects: History, Environmental Science, Transportation Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  3. Vessels Lost, Wrecked, and Stranded during the Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913
    (pp. x-xii)
  4. PROLOGUE: The Sailor’s Premonition
    (pp. xiii-xv)

    Milton Smith tried but could not shakethe uneasy feeling he had about his boat’s final up-bound trip of the season. Sailors could be like that. They would get a sense of foreboding, a feeling that something was about to go wrong, and that was it. Maritime lore spills over with stories about sailors’ premonitions. They would resign their positions and return home, and their ships would sail and never be seen again.

    Sailors could be a superstitious breed, and once they had focused their minds on their premonitions, they could rarely be convinced to change them.

    Milton Smith was...

  5. [Illustration]
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    If ever there were a “perfect storm”on the Great Lakes, it would be the one that pounded the lakes from November 7 through November 10, 1913, leaving a wake of destruction unlike anything ever seen on freshwater at any point in recorded history. By the time the storm had blown out of the region, twelve boats had sunk, thirty-one more had been grounded on rocks or beaches, and dozens more were severely damaged. More than 250 men lost their lives. Eight boats, with their entire crews, were lost in a single day on Lake Huron alone.

    Like the perfect...

  7. 1 “HOW COULD SUCH A THING HAPPEN ON A GODDAMN LAKE?” Lakes Superior and Michigan
    (pp. 13-61)

    In the early days of November 1913, a low-pressure system formed in the northern Pacific near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. It dipped down into Canada, pulling cold Arctic air behind it, and dropped into the Pacific Northwest. It moved along the Canadian and U.S. border, setting off heavy snow, followed by strong winds out of the southwest and temperatures dropping into the single digits. Meteorologists today call this type of system a “clipper.” Nothing about it seemed out of the ordinary.

    The Weather Bureau, headquartered in Washington, D.C., studiously tracked the system, charting it on weather maps and telegraphing the information...

  8. 2 “SO VIOLENT A STORM” Apocalypse on Lake Huron
    (pp. 63-101)

    By all indications, the storm that had tormented the upper lakes was not going to reach Lake Huron and the other lower lakes. This was good news to captains itching to deliver cargo to ports on Lake Michigan or Lake Superior. Waiting for the storm to subside had fouled up shipping schedules, and delays, under the best of circumstances, irritated skippers, who had to defend them to company offices. There was an ever greater sense of urgency now, with so many vessels reaching the end of their season.

    Nothing happening on Lake Huron during the early hours of Sunday morning,...

  9. 3 “YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE LIGHT TONIGHT” The Storm Visits Cleveland
    (pp. 103-115)

    A wintry mix of rain and snowbegan falling on Cleveland at about four thirty on Sunday morning. The temperature was a seasonably cool thirty-six degrees, and a moderate wind blew out of the northeast. The barometer, as recorded by William H. Alexander, Cleveland’s Weather Bureau reporter, was at 29.60 inches and falling.

    At first the precipitation was mostly rain, mixed with large, wet flakes of snow. The snow melted as soon as it hit the ground, if it lasted that long. Streets and sidewalks turned slick and shiny under the streetlights. The storm that had been plaguing the upper...

  10. 4 “I MIGHT SEE YOU IN HEAVEN” Explorations of Loss
    (pp. 117-163)

    The storm on Lake Huron stretched the capabilities of the lifesaving stations trying to assist stranded vessels: they simply were not equipped to handle the immensity of the destruction. It was one thing to send a surfboat to assist a stricken fishing boat during the summer months, quite another to send that same boat out in hurricane-force winds and seas. If nature had blown the huge freighter up on the rocks, what were the chances for a tiny rescue craft? At the height of the storm, heroic efforts were thwarted, rescue crews driven back. The lifesaving stations, by necessity located...

  11. 5 “THIS WAS NOT NATURAL” Discoveries
    (pp. 165-176)

    With the exceptions of theCharles S. Priceand the Buffalo lightship, the exact locations of the boats lost during the Storm of 1913 remained unknown for decades. ThePricehad been identified while still afloat near Port Huron.Lightship 82, after foundering on Lake Erie without a trace, had been discovered the following spring, in May 1914.

    There were attempts to salvage thePriceandLightship 82, if for no other reason than to try to determine how they sank. The lightship lay undiscovered for six months, all efforts to find her discontinued when winter set in and Lake...

  12. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 177-180)
  13. APPENDIX: Boats Lost or Stranded
    (pp. 181-184)
  14. SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 185-188)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 189-190)
  16. ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
    (pp. 191-192)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 193-198)