Heavy snow, the Armistice Day storm, and shipwrecks top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the events that happened on Nov. 11.
During a gale 1852, the wood brig, two mast E.H. Scott was reported ashore on Washington Island, Wis. in Washington Harbor in the bay of Green Bay. The ship was a total loss.
In 1857, the wood freighter City of Superior, while carrying miscellaneous household goods and livestock, was blinded by a blizzard and ran ashore at full speed at the mouth of Copper Harbor on Lake Superior, tearing her bottom out. She broke up in the gale the same night. Most of her freight was saved.
A gale set in at Ontonagon in 1883. Heavy snow fell and ice formed on the Ontonagon River. Temperatures remained cold.
In 1911, a tornado outbreak strikes the Midwest, killing more than a dozen people. Nine people are killed as a violent tornado hits Janesville, Wis. Within an hour, survivors of the storm were digging out in near-blizzard conditions with zero degree temperatures. In Michigan, a tornado kills two people and injures 21 others as it destroys five factories and 21 homes in the northern part of Owosso in Shiawassee County. Another tornado hits southeast of Battle Creek in Calhoun County, leveling barns and taking the roofs off homes. A tornado near Kingsland in Eaton County kills cattle and horses.
Both the Portage Lake Lifesaving Station and the Eagle Harbor lifesaving station rescued the crew of the L.C. Waldo on this day in 1913. Ten crew members were rescued by the Portage Station and the 12 others were rescued by Eagle harbor. The steel bulk freight William Nottingham, while carrying wheat, was caught in the beginning of the inchesBig Storm inches of 1913, she fought the storm for so long that she used up her entire load of bunker coal, then burned up her furniture and wood trim, and lastly her cargo. Finally driven ashore at Sandy Island in eastern Lake Superior. Recovered at huge cost and repaired. Three crew members perished. In another incident, the steel, bulk freight inchesturret steamer inches Turret Chief was upbound, she locked through the Soo before storm warnings were raised. She made it as far as the Keweenaw Peninsula, just west of Copper Harbor, but was driven aground with heavy damage. Thought to be a total loss, but recovered the next year.
On this day in 1933, a snowstorm blanketed all of parts of Lower Michigan with three to five inches of snow. Saginaw reported 5.1 inches Flint had 3.0 inches, Lansing 2.8 inches and Detroit received 3.9 inches of snow.
The fishing tug Donna Marie was carrying fishing gear and herring in 1938. Her crew was pulling nets when they sighted the fish tug Sea Bird approaching. They thought she was coming alongside to compare catches, but in reality her skipper was unable to see Donna Marie because of conditions. She was struck broadside and nearly cut in two. Sea Bird rescued her crew and then took her in tow, but she soon sank in 200 feet of water 15 miles off Duluth six miles offshore in Lake Superior.
In 1940, the Armistice Day storm strikes with hurricane force winds, producing blizzard conditions across Minnesota and mountainous waves on Lake Michigan, where five vessels are lost, claiming 66 lives. Vast tracts of timber were blown down in the gale across the eastern U.P. The south gale that developed over Lake Michigan caused huge waves with up to 50 foot waves reported from Chicago northward across the entire lake. The waves hit the southern U.P shoreline. A storm surge went all the way up the Little Bay De Noc with the water eight feet above normal. This surge swept away a shack at the head of the bay in Rapid River drowning the inhabitant. The remains of the shack washed back ashore the next day. Gladstone had many rowboats in the harbor get piled together at the end of the storm that were encased in ice. A fishing tug was pushed out the harbor by the storm surge and left stranded on an adjacent roadway. Two other tugs were tossed 2,000 feet and left in the middle of a baseball diamond. A fish house was destroyed when it was heaved onshore. Many small boats were destroyed by the waves. With the storm surge, a lot of fish were beached near Gladstone. In Manistique, many windows were smashed. Flag poles were snapped like matchsticks and many trees were uprooted. One uprooted tree smashed a car between Nahma Junction and Ensign with no one injured in the car that had 4 occupants in it. Nahma had huge waves on the Big Bay De Noc which destroyed a dock that dumped several hundred tons of coal into the bay. The Bay de Noquet Lumber Company had a tramway undermined and piles of lumber were scattered over the property from the large waves. Large pine trees were blown over in Nahma and a number of buildings sustained damage. In Mackinaw City, the car ferry, City of Cheboygan was pressed into service because of hunting season approaching and to alleviate traffic congestion. The ferry had been in service a couple of days with railroad rails still not removed from its former job. There were about six cars on the deck and the ferry had to leave because of the strong winds. The cars were not tied down since the boat was new to ferrying. The cars got tossed around the deck because of the high waves and were smashed. The ship sustained some damage as well from the gale. Other ships anchored near Bois Blanc Island along with the Cheboygan to ride out the storm. One ship had a load of new cars on its deck which was common practice in those days. This ship rolled with the waves and even though the cars were tied down on the cargo hatches, some of them went overboard due to the waves. The 416 foot steamship Sinaloa had picked up a load of sand on a Door County Peninsula Island when it encountered the strong gale with gusts up to around 80 mph. The ship tried to anchor at Death’s Door Passage near Washington Island when it got pulled northeast after its engines failed. The ship went aground first on the beach about a mile north of Fayette, then broke loose and slammed into a rock ledge at Sac Bay off the Garden Peninsula. The crew was eventually rescued by some local fishermen and also the Munising Coast Guard. The ship didn’t sustain that much damage and was repaired about a month later. Other boats were wrecked on Lake Michigan with a total of 59 sailors dying in this storm.
A strong cold front passage is followed by high winds and lake effect snow in 1995. From three to seven inches of snow fell across Ottawa and Kent Counties in a six hour period. Grand Rapids receives a record 5.8 inches for the day. Other daily records include Muskegon 6.3 inches, Alpena 7.2 inches, and Houghton Lake 7.1 inches. The heavy snowfall combined with high winds caused widespread power outages due to tree limbs falling and lines breaking. In South Haven a garage roof was destroyed by a falling tree. Power outages affected more than 50,000 people.
In 1997, the first significant lake-effect snow of the 97-98 season brought heavy snow to the Keweenaw Peninsula and to North Central Upper Michigan. The snow began around 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, and lasted into the evening of Nov. 11. Snow totals included Trimountain (10 miles SW of Houghton) 18.5 inches, Marquette County Airport 18 inches, Phoenix (25 miles NE of Houghton) 16 inches, Redridge (10 miles W of Houghton) 14 inches and Eben (15 miles SW of Munising) 11 inches.