Get your daily dose of weather news

with Scott Hetsko, Chief Meteorologist


Our weather blog brings you expert perspective on the latest weather news. Our weather experts share the inside scoop with blog entries from the studio and from the field. Check out the latest weather news and storm coverage in our most recent blog entries.

Wednesday, November 10


Written By: Scott Hetsko

Photo: Cleveland street car stranded by 22" of snow, winds over 70 mph (Courtesy: Western Reserve Historical Society)

97 years ago this week a devastating super storm struck the Great Lakes. The "White Hurricane" hit on November 9-11, 1913 as a trough of low pressure over Minnesota met a developing storm over Tennessee.

A super storm was born over Ohio with air pressure dropping to 968mb or 28.61" with wind gusts reaching 90 mph over the open waters of Lakes Erie and Huron

Many mariners ignored the Weather Bureau's warnings and as a result, the crews of 12 ships were lost and 29 other ships washed ashore. The death toll is estimated between 260-300 people but many were never recovered.


  1. Wow, I can't imagine experiencing a storm of that magnitude today. What effects, if any, did Rochester have from that storm? (don't tell me we got the eastern / rainy side of the storm lol).

  2. Of course we were! I know we had very strong winds and rain from the storm but it most severe impact was felt in Ohio, Michigan and Southern Ontario. Imagine how difficult that storm was to predict 100 years ago. Nowadays probably no one would be on the water...

  3. Scott,
    Is Ohio and Michigan in a more favorable spot for severe snow storms than we are? It's funny because we average much more snow than places like Detroit, Cincinnatti or Cleveland, and yet there don't seem to be too many stories of any great, hurricane-like SYNOPTIC blizzards that pounded western new york. The blizzard of '66 perhaps...but all in all, are we in a sort of in between spot for the really severe snow storms climatologically?

  4. I like to follow the GFS, NAM and ECMWF models on NOAA's NCEP website. I have a question that hopefully you can help me with in terms of interpreting the data. I know that there is a lot that goes into determining what the boundary layer temp will be based on the projected temperature at 850mb. I know it's not a cut and dry calculation, and the temperature at the surface has to do with time of year (sun angle), amount of cloud cover, precipitation, and wind, just to name a few. So in other words, 10C at the 850 MB level in July would translate to a much different temperature at the surface than that same temperature at 850 mb happening in December.

    So my question is, on a cloudy day with light winds and light precipitation falling, what temperature should the 850mb layer ideally be to gaurentee ALL snow, even at lower elevations on this date? And more importantly, how much does that 850 temp requirement for all snow change in the next couple weeks, i.e. what temperature will it need to be around the 1st of December vs. today's date (again, assuming a cloudy day with light winds and light precip).

    The main purpose of my question is to help me determine how far below zero celcius we need to be this time of year to gaurentee any precip in combination with that 850 temp would be snow. I know the rule of thumb is 0c at 850 = snow...but I also know that's not exactly the case this time of year.

    Thanks in Advance!

  5. Great question and I'm sorry I took two days to respond but we've been busy. When forecasting winter precipitation types we focus on critical thickness values rather than what temperatures are at a certain level.

    Thickness is a primary function of the temperature of the air and a secondary function of the moisture content of the air. Temperature and moisture are combined together to produce the virtual temperature. The average virtual temperature from 1000 to 500 millibars determines the thickness displayed on analysis and model progs. But it's also important to know the thickness between 1000 to 850 millibars which is usually the virtual temperature between clouds and near the ground.

    Values lower than 1290m usually equate to a sub freezing layer. Here's a great link with all important thickness for winter forecasting!


Blog Archive