How often do the ‘gales of November’ come early?

Some historic storms have occurred around Veterans Day (formally known as Armistice Day). Friday marks the centennial of a winter storm that blew across the Midwest on “11-11-11.”

The storm developed over southern Wyoming the morning of Nov. 10, 1911, and traveled east, reaching southwestern Iowa by the morning of the 11th. The storm’s center traveled northeast across Wisconsin, reaching central Wisconsin by noon and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by evening.

An F-4 tornado on the five-category Fujita Scale traveled to the northeast across southwestern Rock County, leveling farms, killing nine people and injuring 50. Within an hour of the tornado, survivors were digging out in blizzard conditions and near-zero temperatures.

The rapid drop in temperature was impressive. At the U.S. Weather Bureau’s Madison office, the temperature at noon on the 11th reached 70 degrees, but by midnight, the temperature fell to 20 degrees. Morning and afternoon thunderstorms gave way to snow flurries.

Another memorable storm is the Armistice Day Storm that ravaged the Upper Great Lakes region Nov. 11 and 12, 1940. This storm took down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that spanned Puget Sound before heading to the Midwest. By the time this storm ended, it killed more than 150 people, sank at least 3 ships, stranded hundreds of train passengers and isolated Midwestern towns with 20-foot snow drifts.

On Nov. 10, 1975, a storm developed that was a near repeat of the 1940 Armistice Day Storm. This storm sent the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald to the bottom of Lake Superior with all 29 hands. Lightfoot’s 1976 ballad helped make the incident famous disaster in Great Lakes shipping history.

All this history suggests we should get ready for a potentially exciting month of weather.

Category: Climate
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