35 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreckNovember 9th, 2010 at 5:28 pm by Andrew Thut under Uncategorized, Weather
It has been 35 years since one of the most historic shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. On the evening of November 10th, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. The wreck has evolved into a Midwestern legend and is well known due to Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald“. The song was written as a tribute to this ship wreck and the men who lost their lives.
The freighter was one of the largest on the Great Lakes (729 feet long) and was carrying almost 26,000 tons of ore on its last voyage across Lake Superior. The final route of the Edmund Fitzgerald is documented in the image below.
On the afternoon of Sunday, November 9 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald departed Superior, WI en route to a steel mill near Detroit, MI. Shortly after leaving, the Fitzgerald made contact with the Arthur M. Anderson, a freighter headed on a similar route toward Gary, IN.
Due to an intensifying storm system, the two freighters decided to take a more northern route than was typical for the voyage. The forecast called for gale force winds to come out of the Northeast, and the more northern route would bring the ships close to the Canadian shoreline at the storms peak. This would provide a buffer for the ships and reduce the speed of the winds and the waves that the ships would experience.
On the afternoon of November 10th, the wave heights of more than 15 feet were reported and the Fitzgerald began taking on damage. By around 7 PM wave heights of more than 30 feet were reported and the Anderson made final contact with the Fitzgerald. When asked how the Fitzgerald was doing they replied “We are holding our own”. Shortly afterwards the Fitzgerald disappeared from the Anderson‘s radar screen. The freighter sank 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. The Great Lakes Shipwrecks museum has the final chatter between the two ships posted on this page at the bottom of their website. There are numerous theories regarding how and why the ship sank, but no one definitively knows what led to the Fitzgerald’s demise.
Meteorologist Andrew Thut