November — Changes in Weather, College Football, and Remembering the SS ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’
Halloween is behind us and now we’re a few days into November, my second favorite month of the year.
While many leaves change colors and look spectacular in October, it’s the cold fronts of November that clear the leaves from the trees and usually bring the first snowfalls of the year in the northern parts of the country. This year, however, areas from Pennsylvania through New York and into Maine experienced a freak, massive winter snowstorm a few days before Halloween.
Here in Atlanta, the tree leaves are in their peak for the color change, and a moderate breeze is ripping them out of the trees. We’re forecast for a little bit of much-needed rain later today. The next couple of days we’re going to have highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid to upper 40s —- nearly perfect fall weather.
A few of my favorite parts of November include big football rivalry games, much cooler weather with a hint of winter, and of course, Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, to many people these days, Thanksgiving is more about getting ready for Christmas shopping than it is about spending time with family and friends.
Speaking of college football, the best thing about the rivalry games is that it’s still a chance for a bad team to finish on a high note. My alma mater isn’t doing great this year and it’s doubtful that we’ll make it into a bowl game, but beating that other team will still finish our season on a high note and give us bragging rights for another year. And when both rivals are having a good year, the rival game itself will be full of energy and passion by the players, bands, and of course, those thousands of screaming fans.
For me, the month of November is also about my fascination with those first winter storms up north and the havoc they can wreck on the seafarers of the Great Lakes. Calm and mild weather in the morning, and then freezing rain, snow, hurricane-force winds and twenty-five-foot (and larger) monster waves later that afternoon and evening. Throw in the fact that the Great Lakes are surrounded by land and unable to disperse the energy of the storms like an ocean, and all of a sudden even a moderate strength storm can cause large waves to attack ships from multiple directions and further amplify the danger of even larger rogue waves.
Of the thousands of shipwrecks that litter the floor of the Great Lakes, one of the most famous is the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, a massive freighter that hauled iron ore from mines in Minnesota to destinations near Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald went down with all hands in a massive winter storm in Lake Superior, sinking seventeen miles from the safe harbor of Whitefish Bay. The Edmund Fitzgerald remains the largest ship to sink in the Great Lakes.
Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” music video
The mighty ship and its crew of twenty-nine sailors and crewmen were posthumously boosted into stardom and forever immortalized by Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 hit song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” As far as the ship itself, the Edmund Fitzgerald remains resting on the bottom of Lake Superior and in remarkably good condition thanks to the super cold fresh water throughout the Great Lakes.
This November tenth marks the thirty-sixth anniversary of the loss of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.