How the weather impacted the attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago

National News

An explosion at the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbour (Pearl Harbor) during the Japanese attack. Sailors stand amid wrecked watching as the USS Shaw explodes in the center background. The USS Nevada is also visible in the middle background, with her bow headed toward the left. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – “…December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…”

Eighty years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated those words the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

While Dec. 7 is now infamous, and a day of remembrance, it started out like any other day for that time of year in Hawaii.

The average morning temperature for Dec. 7 is 70 degrees in Honolulu, which is exactly what was observed as folks in and around Honolulu and toward Pearl Harbor felt as they woke up and started their day.

Skies were reported to be “partially cloudy” with good visibility.

This good visibility unfortunately aided the Japanese.

Since no clouds blocked their view, it gave them clear line of sight to carry out the attack.

Just before 8 a.m. on a beautiful Hawaii December morning, bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbor and the nearby airfields as the Japanese flew overheard, leaving more than 2,400 people dead, and many aircraft carriers and battle ships damaged or sinking.

While a number of ships were later salvaged, the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma were lost forever and remain to this day at the bottom of the harbor.

There was one aircraft carrier that was supposed to be at Pearl Harbor that day, but wasn’t, also thanks to the weather.

The USS Enterprise had traveled to Wake Island, more than 2,200 miles west of Oahu to drop off a squadron of Marines, and was on it’s way back to Pearl Harbor the morning of the attack.

circa 1942: American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise sailing in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

They encountered rough seas during their journey which delayed their arrival.

What seemed initially like bad luck at the time was actually a stroke of fortune for the Enterprise crew, and the United States.

Because the Enterprise was not at Pearl Harbor that morning, it was not destroyed or damaged in the attack and was able to play a major role in the war going forward, and was even considered the most decorated United States ship in WWII.

The weather has a big impact on our lives, but often the calm, beautiful days are what we enjoy the most.

Unfortunately, 80 years ago that beautiful weather helped the Japanese carry out their attack, leading to the deaths of more than 2,400 people. Today, and every day, we remember them.

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