What Were You Doing?

I think we all remember what we were doing on September 11th, 2001. I’m told that 9/11 is comparable to what happened with J.F.K.’s assassination. You know what you were doing when it happened. For me, I was in my early 20s, getting ready to graduate college in Norfolk, Virginia. Being the weather guy that I was, I will never forget the weather that day. (Or the feeling I got when I was able to get a hold of my family. Do you remember the busy signals you got when trying to place a cell phone call?)

(Weather at 8am. Eastern)

The weather in New York City was beautiful as it was in Washington,DC . A cold front had pushed through and left the skies that morning bright blue. Even here in Oklahoma City, the weather was nice. A cool morning and a feeling that fall was not that far away. I am sure many meteorologists went on-air that day talking about how gorgeous the weather was. Personally, I was a weather intern and had started the day at my internship.(Which was at the CBS station in Norfolk,Va).  I remember leaving the station and going back to my apartment. I had already known that a plane flew into a building in New York, but it never dawned on me that it was a terrorist attack.  Being in Norfolk, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a military base somewhere. There are lots in Southeastern Virginia. For me, I lived right across the street from Norfolk NAS and it wasn’t uncommon to see fighter jets. Out of courtesy, pilots usually did not light their blowers (aka, reach Mach 1) until they were about 20 miles off the coast. But, this day it was different. I had just gotten home when I thought my windows were about to break. 2 fighter jets had just taken off and reached Mach 1 within seconds of having wheels up. It scared the “bajeezus” out of me. Like, I had been punched right in the chest.

Looking up to see what was going on, I remember being blinded by the sun. But, it took a few years, after watching lots of video, and then realizing just how, if at all, weather played a factor in that day’s decisions.

As mentioned before, a cold front left the skies blue and high pressure was moving in towards The Ohio Valley. The fighter jets that had just left from Norfolk to New York were facing a small headwind  but word is that the jets arrived within 10 minutes. And then there was something lurking off the coast…check out the satellite image below..

That’s right, it was a Hurricane! Hurricane Erin was only a few hundred miles from New York. Thanks to the cold front, the storm was already being pushed away from The United States. But, what would have happened if this front never moved in on time and the Hurricane got even closer? What if the east coast was socked in with fog? What about storms? Low clouds? The terrorists crashed their planes that day because of what they saw. It was a clear day and from the sky, you could see hundreds of miles..The Twins Towers were clearly visible. The Pentagon was clearly visible. Had low clouds been around, fog, or even storms, would the planes had ever taken off? And with a hurricane nearby, would the airlines have canceled flights? Would the airports have been on a ground delay? Would the airplanes have made it in the night before to be ready for the early morning flights? So many questions running through my mind on what if the weather had been nasty out there, and not as clear as it was. Would things have played out differently or would the terrorists have proceeded as planned?No one will ever know.. but what we do know is that weather was no ones priority that day.



One Response

  1. I don’t think I was really aware or have such knowledge of the twin towers. I was in the 11th grade at Mid-Del Vo-Tech when it happened. My interpreter approached us saying what had happened. “Planes crashed into the twin towers” Something like that I was hearing happening in New York. Just not sure if I had really knew the twin towers or not. Then rest of day at DCHS, we were watching on TVs of it all unfolding.

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