While Thermo was seven years old and still a very young instrument he visited the central Gulf Coast area in August of 1969. Thermo had buzzed overhead of the Gulf Coast plenty of times during his young life, so he was expecting the same lovely weather, that of mostly sunny skies with gentle waves rolling up against the shoreline. Instead Thermo saw ominous crashing waves and a dark sky. He asked himself, what is going on?
Thermo turned up his jets and flew high into the atmosphere way above the level where the Wispys of this world normally inhabit and moved southward over the ocean. For the first time Thermo saw an ominous looking, huge, spiraling cloud circulation composed of bands of thunderstorms over the central Gulf of Mexico with a hole of no clouds at its center. Thermo was very curious about the hole so he flew closer towards what was really the eye of a hurricane. Suddenly a huge blinking, squid-like eye appeared in the center of the sprawling cloud that looked very much like that of a large octopus. Lines of thunderstorms that very much resembled the tentacles of an octopus swirled around the eye. Almost instantly a low, booming female voice from the massive storm said, “What are you little machine? I have never seen your kind in the sky before. What have those puny humans created to spy on me?”
Startled and scared out of his wits Thermo retorted sheepishly, “My name is Thermo. I was created by Dr. Carson in Hawaii to explore the world. What and who are you?”
The huge, spiraling storm that covered nearly half of the Gulf of Mexico said “Currently my name is Camille, which humans have dubbed me this time around. I call myself Phoon, both Lord and Lady of the Hurricanes. When I appear usually death and destruction follow. Now go away little machine. In a few hours I will pound the Mouth of the Mississippi with a mighty blow.”
Thermo thought to himself quickly but naively, ”Hmm, perhaps I can produce a current of air over Phoon disrupting this thing’s mighty circulation much the same way I saved Puffy from dying and becoming a Wispy.” As soon as Thermo started to blow a current above Camille with his jets, the storm struck Thermo with a powerful blast of lightning. Startled, but not hurt too badly, Thermo began to fall from the sky. In an angry voice Phoon threatened, “Don’t ever try to do this again Thermo, or I will turn you into a ball of melted plastic and metal with a stronger bolt!” Thermo collected himself before he fell into Phoon’s churning circulation then turned on his jets moving away from the storm at sonic speed. Before Thermo was too far away to hear Phoon, the storm shouted “Run little flying thing. Little do the humans know, but Carbo will make me even stronger in the future!” Thermo wondered “Who or what in the world is Carbo?”
A few hours later Camille, A.K.A the latest incarnation of Phoon, slammed into the Gulf near the mouth of the Mississippi River with winds of near 190 mph. The humans from Camille would suffer much from the landfall on August 17, 1969.
In the real world Camille was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States. Camille killed 259 people and caused over 9 billion dollars in damage (adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars). Camille was a category 5 hurricane, which is the top rank, on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The science of understanding how tropical systems form and develop into hurricanes or typhoons, as they are called in the western Pacific Ocean, is still ongoing. New findings are discovered with each passing year. Wind shear, which Thermo tried to create over the fictional Phoon but occurs naturally, usually disrupts hurricanes and weakens them.
Dr. John Hope, who I consider to be The Weather Channel’s founding father of tropical meteorology, named his daughter Camille. John Hope was The Weather Channels first hurricane expert. Shortly after I was hired at TWC, the first major tropical system that we covered, Hurricane Alicia developed, which slammed ashore directly into the Houston/Galveston, Texas area as a category three storm with winds of 115 mph in August of 1983. The coverage of Alicia was responsible for prior low ratings at TWC soaring, and gave a lot of scientific credibility to the network. Alicia was probably one of the reasons The Weather Channel was not shut down during the mid- 1980’s. Dr. Hope worked countless hours not getting much sleep at all relating to the public the latest information on Alicia and was truly a “meteorologist hero”.
There was also a little know graphics technician that I worked with named Andrew Colletti who worked double shifts to keep John Hope’s graphics as updated and fresh as possible. Andrew was a true behind the scenes meteorologist hero in association with the coverage of Alicia. To this day because of the credibility garnered from the coverage of Alecia, The Weather Channel has high ratings when a tropical system threatens the U.S. since viewers have come to rely on the network for the latest, reliable information. Dr. John Hope was TWC’s tropical expert until his semi-retirement in 1997, passing away in June of 2002. Much honor and adulation was expressed to his family after Dr. Hope’s funeral by The Weather Channel family.
The Climate Guy
The text and artwork are copyright Guy Walton.
Artwork is by my friend, Alyssa Josue.