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The Great Blue Northerner of 1911

How many of you have heard of the Great Blue Northerner? If not then once you do hear the events that took place on this day, you would surely be shocked.

Exactly 109 years ago on November 11, 1911 (11/11/11), an extremely powerful cold front ripped through the U.S bringing all kinds of weather that ranged from severe t-storms with tornadoes to heavy snow with brutal cold.

Home of a couple that was destroyed in the tornado. The couple inside died during the tornado when it moved through the area on Saturday night, November 11, 1911. (Source: Weather Channel)

What is a blue northerner?
A blue northerner is classified as an fast moving intense cold front that drops temperatures significantly after it moves through. The front can come with blue-black skies and immediately after it moves through temperatures could drop anywhere from as much as 40 to 60 degrees.

A blue northerner that is approaching a farm area. (Source: Weather Channel)

Initiation of the Great Blue Northerner of 1911
During the previous days leading up the event that took place on Saturday, November 11, 1911, a powerful boost of air from the jet stream moved in from the west and sucked in a dome of cold air from Canada. By the early morning hours on November 11, the jet stream forced the air farther south moving the powerful cold front along with it. During that same time period, a strong ridge of high pressure that was located in the southeast U.S. was swamping abnormal record warmth northward into central U.S. states. This also led to humid air streaming into the central U.S. states as well. Both air masses would eventually clash with each other leading to the strengthening of the Great Blue Northerner. Severe storms would begin to initiate along the line with heavy snow to the back of the monster cold front also known as the blue northerner.

The daytime highs and nighttime lows during the November 11, 1911 event. (Source: Weather Channel)

Shocking events of the Great Blue Northerner of 1911
By early afternoon, temperatures in the Midwest had moderated into the upper 70s to low 80s which was seen as record levels. Temperatures in the Hoosier state were also in the 70s during the day on November 11, 1911. During the course of the day, the blue northerner swept through the Midwest bringing tornadoes, damaging winds, hailstorms, and dust storms. After the blue northerner had moved through the areas impacted, those same areas would end up seeing a blizzard just mere hours after the front had moved through. Many were caught by surprise with the unusual weather and some even perished as an result of the weather. The Blue Northerner would eventually reach Indiana just a couple hours before midnight and bring severe weather followed by record cold temperatures the very next day. The Great Blue Northerner was also responsible for spawning more than 15 tornadoes on November 11 (some not accounted but were noted) as it plowed through the Midwest. The highest tornado of the outbreak was rated an EF4 and this tornado struck in Wisconsin killing 9 people in its path. There were even a few tornadoes reported in Indiana as well during the outbreak. The system led to more than $1,000,000 dollars in damages, most of the damage seemed to have been from Wisconsin where it had been reported that the EF4 tornado that struck led to $1,000,000 dollars in damages.

Some of the tornadoes that took place on November 11, 1911. (Source: NWS)

Shocking Facts from the Great Blue Northerner of 1911 event
-In Owosso, Michigan at 11:11pm on November 11, 1911, an EF2 tornado touched down and wrecked havoc on the area
-In Springfield, Missouri, the temperature was at 80 degrees at around 3:45, after seeing a thunderstorms that brought sleet, heavy rain, and excessive damaging winds to the area within a couple hours, the temperature had dropped to the 20s with sleet falling in the area as well. By temperature would eventually bottom out at 13 degrees by midnight.
-Many areas in the Midwest and Plains saw sudden drops of temperatures from the low 80s to the 10s by midnight, especially in Missouri
-Early on November 11th in Chicago, an railroad employee died of heat stroke, then within 24 hours, another person succumbed to extreme cold.
-Areas that here hard hit by tornadoes earlier, were hit by a blizzard that would go on to halt help efforts
-The blizzard that proceeded the Great Blue Northerner would bring winds that were equivalent to that of a hurricane.

Temperature differences from November 11-12, 1911. (Source: Weather Channel)

Additional Occurrences of Blue Northerners
Although the Great Blue Northerner was very significant, there have been other events like this recently such as in 1989, 1995, and more recently in 2019. However with the 2019 Blue Northerner, it brought record cold to portions of the Midwest and even here in Indiana where temperatures were stuck in the low to mid 20s during the day on November 12, 2019 after a strong cold front moves through the day prior which was in fact, November 11, 2019!