Beyond The Forecast: How a hurricane could have prevented 9/11

Welcome to another edition of our weekly WSLS weather newsletter! Many of us spent time on Friday reflecting on who was lost and where we were on the morning of September 11, 2001. One thing that many people living in and around New York City have mentioned is just how nice the weather was on that fateful day.

Your Local Weather Authority meteorologist Chris Michaels grew up just an hour north of Manhattan. He remembers the sky being crystal clear on 9/11.

I grew up about an hour north of Manhattan. Like many of us, I remember 9/11 vividly. I remember kids being taken out...

Posted by Chris Michaels WSLS 10 News on Friday, September 11, 2020

The attackers took advantage of that nice weather and lack of airport delays.

Did you know there was a hurricane just off the coast of the United States that could have changed everything?

Hurricane Erin started as a classic Cape Verde tropical wave. It moved off the African Coast on Aug. 30, 2001, and became a tropical depression on Sept. 1. It strengthened to tropical storm status the next day and eventually became a hurricane on Sep. 9.

The storm passed east-northeast of Bermuda as a Category 3 storm and was just 500 miles away from New York City on September 11. The visible satellite image from that day shows the hurricane as well as the smoke from the plane-struck Twin Towers.

What would have happened if a cold front had not steered Erin away from the United States? Would flights have been delayed or even canceled? Would the attackers have picked a different day? Could we have potentially thwarted the threat? It’s unlikely we’ll ever get the answers to those questions.

Switching gears to our forecast in Southwest and Central Virginia, we expect to get not one, but TWO tastes of fall this week. In between, we may have to deal with tropical moisture associated with the remnants of Sally. Chris is breaking it all down in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather content on Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

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-- Justin McKee

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