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Maritime Time: 'The White Hurricane'

The Isaac M. Scott was lost in the Great Storm of 1913 (White Hurricane). It sank in Lake Huron carrying a load of coal destined for Milwaukee. (Photo: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary)
The Isaac M. Scott was lost in the Great Storm of 1913 (White Hurricane). It sank in Lake Huron carrying a load of coal destined for Milwaukee. (Photo: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary)

Hurricanes on the Great Lakes?

Not actually, but a storm in 1913 called the “White Hurricane '' is deemed one of the largest inland maritime disasters in U.S. history. About 250 people died and a dozen ships were sunk.

Winds whipped as high as 90 miles per hour with three-story waves. Hurricane-force winds begin at 74 miles per hour.

The weather service would communicate gale wind warnings by telegraph, where volunteers would translate the message to vessels on the lakes with flags and lanterns.

The White Hurricane influenced modern shipping communication, weather prediction and storm preparedness.

Many of the ships lost in Lake Huron are preserved by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Tyler Thompson is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.