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In the Grip of the Whirlwind: The Armistice Day Storm of 1940 Paperback – June 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder Bay Press (June 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933272201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933272207
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gene Mierzejewski on September 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
It wasn't the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, which leveled a great city, or Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed New Orleans. In its own way, though, the Armistice Day Storm delivered an equal measure of terror to the upper Midwest in 1940.

Almost forgotten today, the storm that brought death and destruction from Minnesota to Michigan is given its due by Tom Powers in "In the Grip of the Whirlwind" (Thunder Bay Press, $14.95), a masterful recounting of the calamity that took 154 lives.

Powers, whose previous books explored Michigan history and natural attractions, gives the first complete report of the surprise storm of Nov. 11, 1940, that doomed freighters, other ships on Lake Michigan and dozens of hunters ill-prepared for an unseasonal blast of wintry hell that plunged temperatures by 40 degrees or more on the 22nd anniversary of the end of World War I.

As "Whirlwind" opens, the region was enjoying a prolonged Indian Summer in the autumn of 1940, as temperatures soared well above normal. Powers reports that the pre-dawn readings were in the low 50s Fahrenheit even in the upper Midwest. By the dawn of Nov. 12, the temperatures were well below freezing, and scores of people were dead.

The deadly storm, which initially swept in from the West Coast and zoomed north, brought gale- and hurricane-force winds to an unsupecting Midwest, which received no warnings of the danger ahead. Caught unprepared on the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan, were the ungainly freighters carrying ore and other cargo.

Mayhem ensued on the waters, as the craft were helplessly buffeted by high winds (a weather station in northern Michigan reported a gust of 126 mph), then rain, sleet, snow and ice.
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In November 1940 the residents of the Midwest and Great Lakes were enjoying the "Indian Summer" knowing that winter's chill was just around the corner. After a few "bluebird" days it seemed that the winter would be a mild one as gardeners were working on their plants outdoors. But what they weren't aware of was the looming cold wave that was engulfing the west and spreading an arctic grip across the Rockies and would soon give rise to a terrible storm that would claim hundreds of lives in only a few hours.

The storm was already making an impression on the West Coast by bringing down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with gale force winds and pounding surf. After it moved inland and faded a second system would form over the Northern Rockies and soon roar its way into the history books.

The Armistice Day Storm took all by surprise because one weather office had closed on the night of the 10th meaning It could gather strength and wind its way northeast hitting the people in it's path like a guided missile. Before it was all said and done the storm had caused millions in damage, killed hundreds, and left those who survived it haunted by the winds howl.

Armistice Day was supposed to be a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers, instead it will be known for when nature declared all out war on the Midwest.
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By Gregory Hope VINE VOICE on December 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I do agree with the reviewer who states that there are too many clichés deployed here, I do still think the book is worthwhile. It's a fast read that recounts the Armistice Day storm of 1940 which swept the Midwest and caught many unprepared. Much of the book revolves around the stories of those caught aboard ship on the Lakes during the tempest. This book will be of most interest to residents of the region where the events transpired, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry Adkisson on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
For those of us who live in the Great Lakes area of the US this book chronicles a weather event that we hope to never experience again. Tom Powers captures the miserable dangerous conditions through real events and a manner of putting words together in an illustrious characterization of the few days the upper midwest was gripped in the fist of this monstrous storm.
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