Unexpected things like mirages and lake effect snow can occur in the Great Lakes region. But we tend to ignore how bad it can get. In 1913, the White Hurricane killed over 200 people and destroyed a bunch of ships. Also called “The November Witch“, this extratropical cyclone was responsible for creating a ghoulish child of hurricane-force gales, whiteouts, and colossal waves, and was unlike any winter storms the captains on the Great Lakes had ever seen.
Over the span of a long weekend, a dozen major shipwrecks occurred, the greatest U.S. inland maritime disaster to date.
Cleveland and other major cities nearby were annihilated by the event, buried in feet of snow. When the White Hurricane ended its four-day spree, the death toll was over 250.
But there is a silver lining. Because everyone had been caught so pants-around-the-ankles off-guard by the disaster, it led to rapid improvements in shipping communication, storm preparedness, and weather prediction. This proved particularly effective a hundred years later, when Hurricane Sandy merged into its own superstorm.
However, thanks to the lessons learned from the 1913 “White Hurricane” and simulations of it which forecasters ran years later, Sandy was stopped from being way worse.