Emerging weather patterns this fall are favourable to produce some big storms over the Great Lakes region. These brutal storms are called the "Witches of November".
The strange name is uniquely used in the Great Lakes region. It refers to the sound of the wind and the waves as they howl and roar over the lakes, punishing ships and the coast with the force of their fury. November Witches are low-pressure systems, producing gale force winds, the equivalent of Category 1 or 2 hurricanes. Huge storm swells as well as rain, hail and blizzards are all possible.
Over the last few centuries, there have been thousands of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, with November claiming the highest number. The most well-known, immortalized in the Gordon Lightfoot song, was the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, carrying 26,000 tonnes of iron ore. The 729-foot freighter and all 29 crew members were lost to the monster 30-foot waves. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that shipwreck, the last big freighter to sink in these waters.
The Great Lakes in North America are not ordinary lakes; more like inland freshwater seas, they are enormous bodies of water big enough to absolutely rule the weather around them. Storms that rage across the lakes in November are the result of frigid arctic air colliding with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. The warm water of the lakes, leftover from the summer months, further adds to this dangerous brew.