The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Terrible Storm Sweeps Superior
Evening News (Sault Sainte Marie, MI), 10 Nov 1913, p. 1

Full Text
High Winds Lash Great Lakes Into Fury; Captains Report Hardest Blow Yet Experienced
Disturbance Started in the South-East, Blowing Along Atlantic Coast -- 68 Mile Wind Reported at Portage Entry -- Steamer Sarnian Six Days From Port Arthur -- Blizzard Subsiding Today

Chicago, Nov. 10.-- Damage wrought by the storm which swept the Lake Michigan water front will aggregate at least half a million dollars and perhaps more. The damage along to Chicago's water front will reach a quarter of million dollars. The Lincoln Park yacht club's breakwater is ruined. Milwaukee reports a damage of $30,000 to the breakwater, which was practically destroyed.


For Sixty hours Lake Superior has been in the grip of one of the worst storms in the history of the Great Lakes region. ANd the gale is not confined to Superior. It extends over the entire state of Michigan, tying up wire service, business and railroad traffic. But the Superior region [was hit] the worst.

... there ware probably fifty vessels large and small, between the Soo and Whitefish Point, waiting for the storm to subside.

Storm signals were out Friday, but several vessels made the passage of Lake Superior, and so far as is known there have been no losses of serious nature.

Several of the vessels arriving at the Soo Sunday were half buried in a thick coating of ice. The Maricopa, Capt. William J. Story of Ashtabula, seems to have fared the worst. Her upper works forward are coated with ice to the depth of a foot in many places.

"Hardest Blow I've Seen on Lakes."

Captain Story said to The Evening News today that he left Duluth Friday noon.

"I knew storm signals were out," Captain Story said, "but had no report from the weather station. I called the station on the phone and asked for a report, but the observer replied that he was too busy to give it to me.

"It was the hardest and longest blow I have ever seen on the lakes and I have been sailing these waters for many years. We had it all the way, but it came the hardest when we were about 30 miles off Otter Island. We lay in at Rock of Ages, on Grand Marais, for five hours; then I decided that we could weather it through. We were not able to locate the "Rock" owing to the blinding snow. We broke the force of the seas in a slight degree by using oil.

"Off Battle Island we sighted a craft, evidently bound up light. She was making bad weather of it and seemed to be holding off and on rather than to come back for shelter. I couldn't make out what boat she was."

The steamer Saronic of the Northern Navigation company had a tough passage and was coated with ice when she arrived.

The steamer Farrell of the Pittsburgh Line lost both anchors off Gros Cap Point and was obliged to put back to the Soo.

Captain Balfour declared this was the first time he had ever lost an anchor in a storm. He explained that his vessel was laying in the shelter of Whitefish Point when both anchor chains snapped and he was obliged to make a run for the Soo. Captain Balfour declared that five other vessels lost anchors at about the same time.

Left Port Arthur Tuesday.

The steamer Sarnian arrived Sunday from Port Arthur and Captain Campbell declared upon his arrival that he had never before encountered such a blow.

"We left Port Arthur Tuesday at midnight," said Captain Campbell. "My barometer was failing, but the wind was especially strong at that time. But when we got around Thunder Bay cape we got it a plenty. I made up my mind that the Sarnian could not weather the gale while the wind held in that quarter, so I went behind the cape.

"I tried five times to get out, but each time it was the same story. On Wednesday night we managed to get out into the lake. By Thursday morning we had gotten as far as Jackfish and we got into the shelter of the bluffs there until Friday night. Saturday night I found anchorage behind Michipicoten Island, and left there Sunday morning.

"When we left Michipicoten it was blowing apparently as hard as ever and there was much snow in the air. I saw a few boats trying to make their way up, but am under the impression that they returned.

Rochester Is Ice Covered

The steamer Rochester, with part of a deckload of cedar shingles, arrived here this morning. She had lost a portion of her deck cargo in the heavy blow and she was covered with ice from stem to stern.

While the barometer is still at as low a point as at any time since the storm began, there was some evidence this forenoon that the worst was over. The majority of the captains of vessels now in port declare they will not venture out until a break is in sight. This is the last trip of the season for many of them, and they do not propose to take any chances.

Originated in the Southeast.

One of the severest storms that has struck the Soo for some time is holding traffic on the Great Lakes in its grasp and many boats are tied up at each end of the canal waiting favorable weather reports. The A. C. Pope [sic: E. C. Pope] has been tied at the head of the canal, just above the gates, for a past 36 hours, and there are a number of others in the same predicament. The storm hit this city last Friday and since that time it has continued to increase in fury, reaching the heighth [sic] last night. According to Local Forecaster Burns, the first storm, which lasted until Saturday afternoon, came from the Canadian northwest, where it originated, but the one which has raged since that time originated in the southeast, blowing from off the Atlantic ocean over the eastern states in general. "The eastern states undoubtedly suffered the worst from the storm, although it was severe over the entire lake region," declared Observer Burns.

Storm Centre Here Saturday.

"The center of the storm Friday was at St. Paul, and Saturday it changed to the Soo. Other stations on the lakes have reported a much worse storm than we have had here. One of the peculiar things about the gale is the fact that there is generally a lull between two storms, but in this case one followed the other, almost instantly. There is usually a day or more of which the weather is calm after one storm has struck and before the other arrives. The storm center las night was at Buffalo, and the difference between the barometric readings at Buffalo and the Soo was less than one inch, this being a very steep gradient for such a short distance. This was the cause of the tremendous winds which cover the lake region.

Barometer at 29.44.

The local barometric reading last night was 29.44 (sea level), this being the lowest reading which was ever recorded here outside of one taken in the year 1895 when the pressure was 28.81. The highest velocity of the wind at this point has been between 35 and 40 miles an hour. During the first storm on Friday and Saturday the velocity reached its height at Portage Entry, near Houghton, having a rate of 68 miles an hour. The highest velocity of the wind during the second storm was 60 miles an hour which was recorded at Green Bay, Wis.

Boats will not leave this port until they have received reports on the weather condition which Observer Burns expects to receive from Washington at any moment, but up until noon it was not possible to get any communication over the wires.

Huronic Aground.

The steamer Huronic is aground off Sheldrake. The bottom is sandy and the boat is in no danger. The Huronic is expected down this afternoon.

Blizzard Subsided.

Detroit Nov. 10.--The blizzard subsided somewhat this morning and the weather department predicted a further decrease in the wind velocity before night.

No serious marine accidents on the waters washing the state of Michigan have been reported, but other property damage caused by the storm is heavy.

Reports from nearly every marine point indicated that the storm was the heaviest in months and the ports are crowded with vessels.

Impossible to Man Boats.

Officials of the life saving stations report that it is nearly impossible to man the boats. The United States lightship in Lake Huron beyond the St. Clair river was blown from her moorings, thrown on the Canadian shore and partially wrecked.


Many Marine Accidents.

Detroit, Nov. 10.--Many reports have reached here of serious marine accidents during the past 24 hours on account of one of the heaviest wind storm that has ever been recorded.

The steamer Harlow is ashore on Peach Island. She was struck amidships last night by the steamer LaBelle and the captain beached her. The La Belle is uninjured.

The steamer Victory is ashore at the east bank entrance of the Livingstone channel, but she is in no immediate danger.

The W. G. Pollock is grounded at the entrance of the St. Clair ship canal. A Tomlinson fleet steamer is on off Wees Point, near Port Huron.

The schooner Charles Chamberlain which was in winter quarters at Port Huron was blown over and sank. There was no one on board at the time of the accident.


Port Huron, Nov. 10.---The steamer Herbert W. Smith arrived at this port badly battered as a result of her fight with mountain high waves on Lake Huron. The captain said it was his worst experience on the lakes. The Mathew Andrews is aground in Lake Huron and is pounding hard where the lightship was before she was swept ashore.

The Saxonia grounded below Sarnia but was later released by tugs. The boat off Wees Beach has been identified as the Hawgood.

A Harbor Beach dispatch says that the freighter D. O. Mills is ashore just outside the breakwater and is pounding badly.

Word has been recieved in this city that the children who were reported missing had been found. They had stopped in a farm house for shelter.

Elphicke Reported in Pieces.

Buffalo, Nov. 10.-- The blizzard which gripped Michigan and the middle west Sunday arrived here this morning. A 70-mile gale is blowing, with snow and sleet. Trains from the east are covered with ice. No boats are sighted off the harbor and the wireless has been unable to pick up steamers on Lake Erie for 24 hours. It is believed the commanders of vessels took ample warning and are safe in harbors. It is reported from Long Point that the steamer Elphicke which grounded there three weeks ago has been pounded to pieces in the storm.

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Date of Publication:
10 Nov 1913
Personal Name(s):
Story, William J. ; Balfour, Captain
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Terrible Storm Sweeps Superior