Thank you to author Bruce Kemp for this blog about his new book Weather Bomb 1913: Life and Death on the Great Lakes, which is about the 7-10 November 1913 hurricane and blizzard that destroyed 19 ships and damaged 19 others on four of the Great Lakes. This is a fantastic book that combines the feel of a nautical thriller with local history, colourful anecdotes and insights into Great Lakes weather.
Disasters don’t just occur on the far side of the world and they are more than what we read about online or see on television. They happen every day to people like you and me and become tangible events hanging over us with stories spanning generations. For millions of Canadians and Americans growing up around the Great Lakes the Weather Bomb, that 1913 hurricane which killed so many people and sank so many ships, still resonates.
Coming from Sarnia, the Storm was always a part of our background noise, but it wasn’t until I became a scuba diver and visited the wreck of the submerged Charles S. Price that it came home to me. Right away I knew it was a story in need of a good telling and I began what eventually became 40 years of research and writing – becoming a Ulysses on what turned into as much a personal odyssey into our history as it did a great story to write about.
I didn’t realize when I set out that there were a number of people who survived the blow and wanted to tell their stories. Some of the tales were by people who were directly involved with the devastation and others came from folks who vividly remembered the horrendous weather system and it they meant to their families.
As proof the hurricane is still a factor, in interviews with modern ship captains, I learned they keep the Storm in mind when planning fall voyages and professional weather men study the causes and impacts to better prepare us for the next time the Witch of November comes storming in from the west.