Weather Behind The Edmund Fitzgerald

Perhaps you could call it the Titanic of the Great Lakes. The mighty 729 foot long Edmund Fitzgerald was one of the largest ships ever to run in the Great Lakes but a weather event of historical proportions sunk the ship 35 years ago today, on November 10, 1975. The ship was located a week later at the bottom of Lake Superior, but to this day not one body was ever recovered. The frightening event lead to a hit song by Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot. This song along with some historical video is below.

Unlike the Titanic, which is though to have sunk due to both mechanical and operational error, it was Mother Nature that took this vessel down. An intense low pressure developed in the plains and moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winds were sustained out of the east and northeast at 40 to 50 mph with waves up to 10 feet high causing major problems for ship traffic early on November 10, 1975. 

By late afternoon the low pressure moved over the Lake and into Canada driving the winds out of the northwest which then gusted up to 80 mph over the open lake. This caused waves to crash on to the ship at more than 25 feet high. All of this was taking place as intense rain mixed and then changed over to very heavy snow and sub-freezing temperatures. The raging super blizzard on an unforgiving Lake Superior doomed the ship and left a mark on the history books. The weather records were recorded very well by a ship only 10 miles away from the Anderson. This was the same ship that put themselves in danger by going back to look for survivors. Their original audio was recorded and is in the link below.  

For a much more detailed look at the specific weather details observed by the Anderson check out the link below. The weather team at WILX in Lansing, MI did a great blog entry one year ago.

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”


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