Detroit News headline
1913 black ribbon

To the memory of those who never reached port,
the families they left behind,
and the survivors who told the tale.

Throughout history many devastating storms have blasted through the Great Lakes, each having its own unique characteristics, however it's the deadly gale that ravaged the lakes in November, 1913, that has rightfully earned the title "King of Storms." No other in recorded history has been so terrific in force, covered such an extended area or continued with sustained high wind velocity for such length of time.


November 6, 1913

The record breaking shipping season was coming to a close and ports all around the lakes were a hive of activity; each captain and crew anxious to get one of the last trips of the season underway while the weather was still favorable. The J. H. Sheadle was at Fort William taking on a cargo of wheat along with the Canadian freighters Wexford and James C. Carruthers. The Wexford left Fort William at noon followed by the Sheadle at 8:00 p.m. The James C. Carruthers followed later that night with 370,000 tons of grain filling her hold. The package freighter Regina was docked at Sombra, Ontario taking on her cargo of hay. The Charles S. Price and Isaac M. Scott were loading coal at Ashtabula, while the John A. McGean loaded coal at Sandusky.

The temperature had been unseasonably warm with Ohio newspapers reporting "the warmest November days in years," but that was going to change quickly. Even so, the weather forecast wasn't unusual for the time of year. Moderate to brisk winds with rain were predicted for that night or Friday on the upper lakes, with fair to unsettled weather on the lower lakes, including southern Lake Huron. In 1913, with weather forcasting still in its infancy, there was no way to predict the enormity of the hell-bender that was taking aim on the Great Lakes region.

The barometer began falling that evening as the storm was first felt over western Lake Superior. After midnight the southeast wind shifted to a vicious northerly gale. Before the four day storm was over the Great Lakes region would be ravaged by the deadliest monster ever seen. Over 250 people would lose their lives as over two dozen vessels were wrecked or driven ashore and shorelines were strewn with wreckage and bodies from another 12 vessels, four of which have yet to be found.

The steamer Cornell, upbound and about 50 miles west of Whitefish Point, reported encountering an unusually high northwest sea just prior to the wind shift. Commanded by Capt. John Noble, the Cornell suffered heavy damage and survived the storm only by dragging her anchors with her engines running at full speed ahead.

Nov. 6 | Nov. 7th | Nov. 8th | Nov. 9th 





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