THURSDAY NOVEMBER 9 - THE GALES OF NOVEMBER


Since commercial shipping began on the five Great Lakes, there have been approximately 6,000 shipwrecks there. Many have occurred in November, which is often a month of great storminess on the Lakes.

Tomorrow is the 25-year anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a sturdy 700-foot long, 75-foot wide ship. It sank on Lake Superior after being battered by angry waves driven by the gale-force winds of an intense November storm. Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a tribute to this ship and the 29 men who lost their lives when it went down. His haunting lyrics, "Superior, they say, never gives up her dead, when the gales of November come early" reflect just how dangerous the Lakes can be to ships this time of year.

And that danger's been known for a long time. In fact, the loss of sailors and ships on the Great Lakes due to stormy weather was a key argument used way back in the 1860s to convince Congress and the President to create a United States Weather Bureau.

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