Rogue Wave May Have Led to Edmund Fitzgerald’s Demise

Monday marked the anniversary of the sinking and people gathered virtually at Split Rock Lighthouse to reflect and honor the lives lost.

DULUTH, Minn. – 45 years ago this week, the Edmund Fitzgerald left the Duluth-Superior Port before sinking to the bottom of Lake Superior killing all 29 crew members on board.

Monday marked the anniversary of the sinking and people gathered virtually at Split Rock Lighthouse to reflect and honor the lives lost.

The Fitzgerald sank in the far southeast corner of Lake Superior near Whitefish Point in Michigan.

Wednesday, an expert at UMD talked about the theory of a rogue wave taking out the vessel.

He says waves grow underneath the wind and get larger and larger so it’s likely the Edmund Fitzgerald could have been in the worst place at the worst time.

“Within an hour or less you can be in what feels like a washing machine where you’ve got waves coming from all directions and they tend to be very short waves with a high frequency and that makes it particularly tough for navigation,” says Sam Kelly, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UMD.

Boats in the area of the Edmund Fitzgerald reported 30-foot waves around the time of the sinking.

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