8:00 to be | *Weather’s function in “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” top top November 10th, 1975*

November 9, 2018Paul Dorian


OverviewForty-three years have passed since a major storm end the an excellent Lakes aided to sink the SS Edmund Fitzgerald top top Lake remarkable taking the lives of all 29 crew members top top November 10th, 1975. When launched on June 7, 1958, it was the biggest ship on north America"s great Lakes, and also to now she stays the largest to have actually sunk there. The Edmund Fitzgerald was in the worst feasible location throughout the worst weather of the ferocious storm. The wind and waves from the west hit the freighter broadside together it tried come flee south to safety and security in Whitefish Bay. The Edmund Fitzgerald was invited with around 26,000 tons of taconite pellets ~ above Nov. 9, 1975, at Superior, Wisconsin and was bound for Detroit, Michigan when the storm hit.

The StormStorms ~ above the good Lakes deserve to rival hurricanes in their intensity and the one the sank the Edmund Fitzgerald had sustained winds of 67 mph, gusts as much as 86 mph, and also waves reported approximately 35 feet according to one more vessel in the area that endured the storm. On November 8, 1975, a storm was brewing in the center component of the country and it top northeastward in the direction of the good Lakes. On November 9 in ~ 7 p.m. The nationwide Weather business (NWS) approve a gale warning for Lake Superior. The NWS predicted eastern to northeasterly winds during the night, changing to NW to N by the afternoon of November 10. At around 10:40 p.m., the NWS modification its forecast for east Lake superior to easterly winds ending up being southeasterly the morning of the 10th. At about 2:00 am on November 10th the NWS upgraded the gale warning to a storm warning (winds 48-55 knots) v a prediction of "northeast winds 35 come 50 knots ending up being northwesterly 28 come 38 knots on Monday, waves 8 come 15 feet".


Around 2 a.m. ~ above the 10th the captains of the Anderson – a 2nd freighter captured in the storm that endured - and Edmund Fitzgerald disputed the threatening weather and decided to change their route. This safer route would take it them northward, toward the shore of Canada. The north route would defend them native the waves that the storm generated. In ~ 3 am, the winds were supposedly coming indigenous the northeast in ~ 42 knots. The Anderson and also Edmund Fitzgerald proceeded in addition to the Edmund Fitzgerald front of the Anderson. They had actually radio contact and also the Anderson"s radar situated the position of the Edmund Fitzgerald. In ~ 7 am on the 10th, the intensifying storm passed over Marquette, Michigan and it started to move across Lake Superior.

You are watching: How big were the waves that sank the edmund fitzgerald?

On the afternoon of November 10th, critical wind change took place. At 2:45 p.m. The winds had actually backed come NW and were still solid at 42 knots. Secure winds in ~ 43 knots and waves of as much as 12 and 16 feet were reported by the Anderson. At about this time, the Edmund Fitzgerald contacted the Anderson and also reported "a fence rail down, 2 vents shed or damaged and a list” (a perform is once a delivery leans to one side). A transition of winds come the NW is really important, as this increased the fetch allowing large waves come build. The Edmund Fitzgerald and Anderson to be no longer defended by land.


Late on the afternoon the the 10th, the captain that the Edmund Fitzgerald make radio contact with another ship, the Avafor, and also reported that they "had a bad list, had actually lost both radars, and also was taking heavy seas over the deck in one of the worst seas the had ever been in." Captain McSorely was a seasoned seafarer of the great Lakes with 44 year of experience and also this extremely was to be his final voyage prior to retirement. In ~ 7 p.m., the Anderson made radio call with the Edmund Fitzgerald and had she on your radar. Once asked how the Edmund Fitzgerald was making out (around 7:10 pm) they replied "we room holding our own". Shortly after that the Edmund Fitzgerald disappeared native the Anderson"s radar screen. No distress signal were ever issued. The Anderson reported the absent Edmund Fitzgerald come the U.S. Coast Guard. After conducting a heroic, but futile search of the area for survivors, the Anderson gotten in into the security of Whitefish just from the stormy Lake remarkable in the early on hours the November 11. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 530 feet of water about 17 miles from Whitefish Bay, near the cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Gordon Lightfoot’s track “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”The story of the Edmund Fitzgerald to be made renowned one year later on by Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot"s song "The destructive of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (1976, Moose Music, Ltd.). This track was a tribute come the delivery wreck and also to the guys who shed their lives. Some of the text of the song (below) made it sound as though the crew knew they to be doomed. In reality, that is thought that the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald was very rapid and also it is likely they did not understand the seriousness of your condition. Indeed, ~ the destructive a severely damaged life watercraft was found and only component of the second. The condition of the lifeboats suggests that no attempts to be made to leaving the ship.

"...At 7 p.m. A key hatchway caved in he said "fellas it"s bin an excellent to understand ya" The captain wired in he had actually water comin" in and also the an excellent ship and also crew was in peril and later that night once "is lamp went the end of sight come the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"


More on great Lakes shipping disastersIncredibly, in the previous 300 years, about 30,000 human being have passed away in 10,000 shipwrecks ~ above the an excellent Lakes. Other shipping tragedies on the great Lakes, in i m sorry weather played a function include: • Nov. 11, 1913: eighteen pearls were lost killing 254 people. • Nov. 11-13, 1940: 57 men passed away when 3 freighters sank in Lake Michigan. • Nov. 18 1958: 33 men passed away on Lake Michigan v the sinking the the Carl D. Bradley. • Nov. 29, 1966: Daniel J. Morrell sank in Lake Huron death the 28 crew members.

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Warning – you may be humming “The destructive of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for the rest of the day and also if you now have a strong desire to listen to the complete version click right here for the YouTube video.

Meteorologist Paul DorianPerspecta, Inc.perspectaweather.com

November 09, 20187:00 to be | *Two storms and two Arctic outbreaks to attend to between today and the middle of next week*