1894: Severe storms and wind sinks 9 ships on Lake Michigan

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Ever since people have traveled the Great Lakes, storms have sunk ships and taken lives. In fact, the very first recorded sailing vessel on the upper lakes, was lost in 1679. Since that time, massive and historical storms have swept the lakes, most numerous in the month of November. With the coming of modern technology and stronger vessels, fewer such losses have occurred. The large surface of the lakes allows waves to build to giant heights out in the open. Strong winds can cause storm surges that lower lake levels several feet on one side while raising it even higher on the other. The shallowest lake, Lake Erie, sometimes sees storm surge rises of 8 or 10 feet. On May 18, 1894 one such storm and wind event struck the Lakes. On lake Michigan off of Chicago 9 vessels were sunk with an uncounted loss of life.

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