There's a particular lyric in the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” that goes “T'was the witch of November come stealin'”. Did you ever wonder what that was?

The song also mentions the 'Gales of November' which is the same thing. Also referred to as the 'November Witch', the term applies to the rough waves and weather that sweep through the Great Lakes every November. This bad weather is caused by the cold air coming down from Canada, mixed with the warmer temperatures coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. The fact that each Great Lake is large enough to be called an 'inland sea' means they can have their own personal weather systems.

These storms produce waves over twenty feet high and winds over eighty miles per hour, making them just as forceful as low-level hurricanes. Whether you call it the 'November Witch', 'Witch of November', 'November Gale', or the 'Gales of November'...the occurrence was brought to the attention of the mass population by the above-mentioned Gordon Lightfoot song. There are somewhere over 10,000 sunken ships lost on the Great Lakes, but only a scant few – including the Edmund Fitzgerald – are reported to have been sunk by the Witch of November.

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Even so, it's estimated that over 25,000 seamen perished in the hurricane-force winds and rough waves that occur every November over the last 300+ years. So when the Farmer's Almanac warns you to 'beware the November Witch', you can take it to heart.

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