It’s fun to complain and get worked up about the weather. Especially in the age of social media, "snowmaggedons" are a viral, shared experience … and in the last year, we’ve had plenty to talk about it, too.
It’s starting early this year. With temperatures plunging this week, people are pre-complaining about a new polar vortex, even though that’s not what’s going on.
Can you imagine, though, how social media would’ve melted down exactly 101 years ago? Nov. 11, 2013 was the end of the "Big Blow," the "Freshwater Fury" or the "White Hurricane," a hurricane-force blizzard that killed more than 250 people and and destroyed 19 ships.
I knew nothing of this storm until my office neighbor, Steve Palec, brought it up. This "November Witch" sounded insane, and there were no hashtags to describe it. Observers – presumably there was no round-the-clock storm team squawking on AM radio back then – first noticed the storm on Nov. 6 on the western side of Lake Superior. The Detroit News forecast "moderately brisk" winds that day. On Nov. 7, the Port Huron Times-Herald upgraded the storm to "moderately severe." Coast Guard stations raised signal flags with a sequence of red, white and red lanterns, which meant that hurricane winds were moving alongside a blizzard.
The Nov. 10, 1913 Milwaukee Journal gave a short forecast that didn’t seem to jive with the emergency state of affairs: "Breakwater and pile drivers wrecked on South Shore. Sections of the lake shore bluff washed away. Coldest early November day in many years. Velocity of wind, twenty-five miles an hour. Snow expected."
Snow expected, indeed.
Over the next few days, the lake effect blizzard dumped incredible weather on the midwest. The Milwaukee harbor lost its entire south breakwater and much of the surrounding South Shore Park area in Bay View that had been recently renovated. Cleveland saw six foot snow drifts, stranding passengers in their powerless streetcars for two nights. With waves as hi…Read more...