The weather and 9/11

This year is amazingly similar

Spencer Finch's “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” at The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (Mary Altaffer, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

I remember how purely blue the sky shone and how crisp the air felt that day. A September front with building high pressure whisked the clouds off the coast to leave a perfectly quiet canvas that would soon turn horrific.

The above cover photo is an artwork from the 911 Memorial Museum recognizing that blue sky: The piece is comprised of 2,983 individual watercolor squares—each representing a victim of the 2001 and 1993 attacks—and symbolizes the idea of memory. Many remember the beauty of the clear blue sky on the morning of 9/11. But, our own perception of the color blue might not be the same as that of another person. However, just like our perception of color, our memories share a common point of reference.

I have blogged before about the weather that fateful morning and what strikes me this year, as we come up on the 20th anniversary, is how similar our weather will be on Friday and into Saturday.

First, the two hurricanes

You might recall Hurricane Erin plowing through the Atlantic that week, just missing Bermuda as a Category 2 105 mph storm and just off the east coast that morning --taking the moisture with it. I’ve circled NYC:

Courtesy NOAA

Today, we have 110mph Hurricane Larry which will also miss Bermuda just to the east and be off the New York Coast on Friday. Here’s the forecast cone:

courtesy National Hurricane Center

Two cold fronts

The day before 9/11 a number of showers moved through New York City thanks to a cold front. And in our forecast for Friday into Saturday we are also expecting a September cold front. Here are the synoptic charts from then and now:

From The Weather Prediction Center Archives

Here is the forecast chart for THIS Friday/Saturday:

Notice Hurricane Larry, the cold front and the High Pressure over the Ohio Valley. There is even rain forecast over Florida

The two hurricanes, the cold front, the high pressure building over the Ohio Valley. Rain over Florida. Even the Low pressure systems and fronts out west are there. The synoptic set up matches almost perfectly this Friday and Saturday to that fateful Tuesday.

Even the temps match up

I am forecasting highs in the mid 90s and lows around 70 Friday and Saturday thanks to the cold front. Here is what we had back on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001...a low of 68.

Courtesy National Weather Service
courtesy National Weather Service

Saturday morning’s low forecast for New York City is 61 and on that horrific morning was 63. You can see the 1.16″ rain total the day before.

What to make of all this?

Not much really. I personally find it fascinating that the weather 20 years after the event that shaped so much of this century is practically the same, almost to the day. This will certainly provide a perfect backdrop to the many tributes taking place this week and on Saturday.

I encourage you to read a short piece about the Museum Art above, right here.

Have a safe week!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.