Story By PAUL S. PETERSON
Photographs from David K. Petersen
click images to enlarge
It is known as the Armistice Day Storm of 1940, a storm of hurricane-force wind, blinding snow and freezing temperatures. It battered three states, leaving 154 dead, with the Ludington-Pentwater area feeling the brunt of it.
Three ships went to the bottom between here and Juniper Beach south of Pentwater with a loss of 60 seamen, a Ludington carferry went aground along the north breakwater just 500 feet from shore.
On land roofs were torn from buildings, windows smashed, power lines were downed and trees uprooted. The storm also spawned a daring, but controversial rescue, and an attempted rescue that went awry.
Communication was slow in 1940, no telvision, no internet, no mobile phones, not even a local radio station. But there was the Daily News with its 3 p.m. press time, and a forecast calling for colder temperatures with rain turning to snow flurries that evening.
That was a considerable change from a string of days that had Ludington basking in 64-degree weather.
By mid-morning Monday, Armistice Day, the wind picked up and a steady rain was falling, causing postment of a parade scheduled that evening.
About 2:30 that afternoon the storm's first wave hit in the form of rain and high wind causing the Pere Marquette Railroad's Ludington carferries to remain in port here and Wisconsin.