Watch Mother Nature Rage!

Lake Superior & The Gales of November

“When the gales of November came slashin’.”

Split Rock Lighthouse Gales of November

Photo Credit: Duluth News Tribune

As most famously illustrated in Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” November can bring violent storms creating gale-force winds that cause gigantic waves and fury on Lake Superior. November has notably been the month where dozens of shipwrecks had occurred. Perhaps the most violent storm to hit Gitche Gummi was the 1905 storm known as the “Mataafa Blow,” which took the lives of nine men as the Mataafa ship hit the North Shore and was destroyed. The 15 survivors managed to climb to safety, and they stayed warm by the fire they created in the captain’s bathtub. That storm alone caused damage to 29 ships which a third were owned (and uninsured) by the U.S. Steel Company.

The U.S. Steel president initiated a mission in Washington, D.C., to lobby for a light station. Historically, Split Rock was initially named “Stony Point,” but the lobbyists used Split Rock in 1907 when referring to the location, and the name stuck. That year, Congress earmarked $75,000 for a lighthouse and fog signal, and in 1910, Split Rock Lighthouse was born.

Over the last hundred years, more than 140 ships were lost to the gales of November on Lake Superior. In mid-fall, the great lakes serve as the most dangerous maritime regions anywhere. Meteorologists use the term “weather bomb” for the strong low-pressure systems that feed off the relatively warm waters of the great lakes.

What Weather Scenarios Cause the Gales?

When a strong, low-pressure Canadian system collides with the warmer waters of the great lakes, it generates tremendous wind speeds of up to 50-69 mph. Imagine when the winds stir up a 200-mile area body of water, you’ll witness the mayhem of mother nature in action.


Where are the best spots to safely wave watch?

First of all, when she’s raging, it’s best to watch indoors. However, if you choose to brave the elements, be sure to stand a safe distance away. Some of the best spots to watch massive waves along the north shore in Lake County include:

  • Palisade Head – located in Tettegouche State Park, the high cliffs make an excellent viewpoint as long as the waves don’t reach the top!
  • Split Rock Lighthouse –  When visiting the state park, you can hike down many stairs (171 to be exact) down to the coastline. There’s an overlook along the way that will give you a sweet scene of Lake Superior.
  • Two Harbors Break Wall – if the waves aren’t too insane, it’s quite a view to watch the waves crash against the break wall and the ore docks.

Lodging Specials with Lake Superior Views in Lake County

If you prefer to wave watch surrounded by the comfort of a warm fire, several lodging facilities offer lakeside views and special pricing during November.

Gooseberry Park Cottages & Motel

Fall/Winter Getaway Special – Valid Nov 1 – Apr 1

  • Stay 2 Nights and Get Your 3rd Night Free at Off-Peak Pricing!
  • 1-Bedroom Lakeside Cabin $139 per night plus tax.
  • 2-Bedroom Lakeside Cabin $169 per night plus tax.

Cove Point Lodge

Gales of November on Lake Superior – Valid November 1-30′

View Amazing Waves & Save 20% Off Lodge Rooms
Offer valid for lodge rooms only.

Larsmont Cottages

Stay & Dine – Valid Nov 1 – February 28

Stay and Dine at Larsmont Cottages & Ledge Rock Grille. Enjoy 15% off your room rate as well as a $25 dining card to Ledge Rock Grille when you book three or more nights! Take advantage of this offer over Thanksgiving weekend!