Environment
1:37 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

PHOTOS: The Deadly Great Lakes 'Hurricane' of 1913

Lake Effect's Mitch Teich chats with Michael Schumacher.

A hundred years ago this week, a nasty storm blew across the Great Lakes - and into history.

The storm was so bad that people considered it a “freshwater hurricane.” It was the deadliest and most destructive storm to hit the Great Lakes.

Dozens of ships - huge freighters - sunk or were stranded on the shore, and more than 250 sailors lost their lives as the storm raged across the waters.

“These boats, the ones that were found, were all upside down, indicating that it was very likely that they were just bowled over," says Kenosha author Michael Schumacher. "We’re not talking about small vessels here, we are talking big vessels.”

Schumacher looks back at that destructive four-day storm in his new book, November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913.

Using historical photographs and accounts from surviving sailors, author Michael Schumacher tells the story of the deadliest storm to hit the Great Lakes in 1913.
Credit University of Minnesota Press

At the time, weather forecasting was still a new science, and only moderate winds had been predicted. Ship captains, who were trying to fit in one last journey for the season, were forced to try to outmaneuver the incoming storm.

“And that wind direction was the indicator where you should be on the lake at that point, if you can, or how you should take shelter. Here, there was no way of knowing," Schumacher says.

In the book, Schumacher uses surviving sailors' stories to bring to life their terrifying ordeals, as he describes the fight to keep ships afloat, lake rescues, and the efforts to recover the bodies of those lost. He also uses historical photographs to illustrate the storm's vast destruction.