White Hurricane: A Great Lakes November Gale and America's Deadliest Maritime Disaster

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9780071435413: White Hurricane: A Great Lakes November Gale and America's Deadliest Maritime Disaster

"Brings history to life in a book as readable as any novel." - "Good Old Boat". On Friday, November 7, 1913, after four days of winds up to 90 miles an hour, whiteout blizzard conditions, and mountainous seas, 19 ships had been lost on the great-lakes, 238 sailors were dead, and Cleveland was confronting the worst natural disaster in its history. David G. Brown combines narrative intensity with factual depth to re-create the "perfect storm" that struck America's heartland. Brown has created a vast epic ranging over Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie and echoing down the decades.

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A riveting, well researched account of the worst Great Lakes storm on record. A fascinating read. - Inland Seas: Quarterly Journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society; Brings history to life in a book as readable as any novel. - Good Old Boat; A great read. - Grand Rapids Press

From the Back Cover:

Great Lakes mariners fear the gales of November. Six to ten thousand vessels litter the lake bottoms, a disproportionate share from LaSalle's Le Griffon in 1679 to the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 lost in autumn storms. No one, however, was prepared for the killing wind that materialized from the unusually balmy days of early November 1913. On Friday, November 7, as hundreds of ships left port on their final trips of the season, a deadly atmospheric disturbance was already churning Lake Superior and spreading east. By Sunday night, Lake Huron was battered by winds up to 90 miles an hour, whiteout blizzard conditions, and mountainous 35-foot waves. The White Hurricane became the worst Great Lakes storm on record, the monstrous product of a meteorological chain of cause and effect that has yet to repeat itself. Twelve ships sank, and thirty-one more were stranded on rocks and beaches. At least 248 sailors lost their lives, and the city of Cleveland faced the worst natural disaster in its history.

In White Hurricane, nationally recognized nautical writer and experienced Great Lakes mariner David Brown re-creates the desperate struggles for survival aboard doomed and damaged vessels and on shore. Using first-hand accounts and contemporary newspaper reports, he reconstructs the progress of the storm in a tight chronology packed with vivid detail and unforgettable drama. He re-creates the long and desperate hours as captains blinded by driving snow tried to guess where treacherous shorelines lay; as layers of ice made ships top-heavy and threatened to capsize them; as rivets exploded like popcorn from hull plating; as sailors in one storm-tossed freighter watched a crack open up across their steel deck; and as the crew of another stood frozen in horror while a passing vessel broke up and sank before their eyes. And he does what the fledgling U.S. Weather Bureau of 1913 could not do: dissect the storm itself to highlight its hour-by-hour development.

The storm left mystery as well as devastation in its wake. Why, for instance, was the body of a crewman from the Charles S. Price found wearing a life jacket from another doomed ship, the Regina? Why did the Henry B. Smith set out into the Lake Superior blizzard with its hatches still open, never to be seen again? What turned the south end of Lake Huron into a killing zone Sunday night, and why were so many ships caught there? Brown follows all these strands deep into the heart of the storm, meeting the people who lived and died there, including the eighteen-year-old helmsman who may have saved the lives of his entire crew by disobeying his captain's order; the ship's engineer who was stirred by a premonition to quit his ship just before the season's final voyage, then met his shipmates again a few days later under far different circumstances; and the young captain who saw his crew into a lifeboat, then retired to his cabin to die.

White Hurricane tells a big, multifaceted story that sprawls across nearly a thousand miles of storm-ravaged inland sea, combining a fast-paced narrative with scrupulous history and telling detail.

A Riveting Account of the 1913 Storm That Paralyzed the Heart of America

"Ships in the grasp of the storm were on their own, beyond human aid. No matter what happened, they were cut off from potential rescue by the fierceness of the winds and the height of the waves. Even though their anchor held, Regina's crew recognized their perilous situation. The pumps were no longer controlling the flooding, and their ship was becoming waterlogged. It would be only a matter of time before the small freighter succumbed to Lake Huron. Staying aboard a sinking ship was certain doom. If they were to survive, the crew realized they were going to have to rescue themselves." from White Hurricane

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