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Every November, the Great Lakes and the surrounding regions are beset by powerful storms. The lakes, which are large enough to create their own weather systems, pull cold air down from the north while the warm air from the Gulf travels north. When the hot and cold air streams mix they can create hurricane force winds that are famous for sinking ships.
The storms, which usually arrive in November, are known as “Witches,” a nickname made popular after Gordon Lightfoot referenced it in his song “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship to ever sail on the Great Lakes. Launched in 1958, the freighter was in service until the “November Witch” of 1975 saw it sink, taking all 29 crew members along for the ride. It remains the largest ship ever to have sunk in the Great Lakes.
Farmersalmanac.com reminds us that while the Fitzgerald was the largest, it is by no means the only ship claimed by these tumultuous storms:
The floors of all five Great Lakes are littered with thousands of wrecked vessels. More than 6,000 ships were lost on the Great Lakes between the years of 1878 and 1897 alone. Over the last 300 years, an estimated 25,000 mariners have lost their lives on the Great Lakes, with the vast majority of those casualties occurring within the icy grip of the November Witch.