How the Weather could have changed 9/11
by Kelly Smith, Meteorologist
September 08, 2011 11:46 PM
"Not a Cloud in the Sky"With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 only days away, we are bombarded again with the images and sounds of that fateful September morning. Iconic images of the twin towers burning against a cobalt blue sky painted the picture of a once quiet uneventful Tuesday morning rocked by terror. Survivors were often quoted talking about the beautiful September morning.
What many do not remember is that on the morning of September 11th 2001, there was a large Hurricane just off the coast of New York City. Hurricane Erin was sitting in the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 1 Hurricane packing 90 mph sustained winds.
(Hurricane Erin's Track and Intensity. Image Courtesy: Weather Underground)Hurricane Erin was moving northwest in the days before September 11th towards New York City. However a strong trough situated along the east coast acted like a blocking mechanism, allowing Hurricane Erin to shift her directional movement northeast and taking her away from New York City. Although Hurricane Erin never made a direct impact on the east coast, it could have changed history forever.
(NBC's Today Show Graphic from the morning of September 11th 2001 and the trough location over the east coast)The day of September 10th, 2001 a heavy band of clouds associated with Hurricane Erin decreased visibilities in the New York area. But by the morning of September 11th the clouds had finally dissipated and skies were clear for take off.
(Satellite Picture from September 10, 2011)On the morning of September 11th, Hurricane Erin turned to the Northeast, but was the closest to the U.S. and New York City then it ever was. Erin created Northwest winds which would funnel in cooler and more dry air to the New York Metro Area which led to the beautiful weather. The far reaches of Hurricane Erin made it as close as Cape Cod before moving farther east into the Atlantic Ocean.
(Close-up Satellite view of Hurricane Erin on the morning of September 11th.)With such a beautiful and clear morning, the smoke from the World Trade Center attacks were visible from the International Space Station and Satellite images.
(Satellite Image taken after the 9/11 attacks)It is amazing to think back to that fateful day and imagine how History could have been changed by a storm named Erin