Story 6. A Vacation in Canada
Thermo was despondent after his encounter with Phoon. “If only I had been able to do something to avert disaster,” he moaned. Dejected, the little thermometer caught up with his friends Fluffy and Puffy and related the whole sad story to them. For minutes afterward, the three friends simply sat in stunned silence.
Finally, Fluffy said, “Why don’t we get away from here? Let’s leave the Gulf Coast and head north where we have never been. We could do some sightseeing.”
“That’s an excellent idea,” Puffy chimed brightly. “I love Canada, and we’ve never been north of Hudson Bay. Let’s see what there is to see there.”
Thermo considered it and then agreed. “That sounds good to me.” Then with a sly smile he added, “I really need to chill.”
All three friends howled with laughter. They knew full well how cold it was in northern Canada.
The journey took several days, but the trio finally got as far north as Hudson Bay, a huge area of water in central Canada connected to the Arctic Ocean. It was late August, and Fluffy, Puffy and Thermo were surprised at how cold it was. After crossing the bay, Thermo’s zipper-like thermometer, which ran from his stomach up to his throat, showed readings down in the teens. Fluffy and Puffy, who couldn’t feel either heat or cold and thus remained quite comfortable, were delighted at the change of scenery.
After playfully gliding over the northern portion of Hudson Bay, Fluffy noticed something odd happening under Puffy. With alarm she cried, “Puffy, there are white flakes of ice falling from you. What is going on?”
Wide-eyed, Puffy noticed that flakes were falling from Fluffy too. Frightened, Puffy asked, “Are we coming apart?”
Thermo laughed. “Guys, I think these flakes are called snow. Dr. Key tells me that it’s very common for even small clouds like you to produce snow in the arctic, even when the sun is shining in between them.”
Puffy and Fluffy’s shock quickly turned to glee, and they began to giddily spin to and fro over the dancing flakes wafting softly through the air.
Thermo was startled, however, when one of the snow flurries grew larger and suddenly sprouted eyes, a nose and a mouth. With a fairy-like voice the snow crystal said to Thermo, “My name is Flake. Is this my mother and father?” pointing to Fluffy and Puffy.
Thermo wrinkled his nose as he thought about that for a second, and then answered, “Why yes, I suppose they are. This is Fluffy and Puffy, and they helped make you.”
Puffy and Fluffy giggled at Flake, marveling at his six-sided beauty. Then as more Flakes swirled around them, they began to cut loose. Laughing, whirling and twirling, they zigzagged back and forth and up and down, playing games with the little Flakes and entertaining one another as Thermo watched with amusement.
As the hours drifted by, Thermo’s enjoyment of the scene before him began to wane. Unlike Fluffy and Puffy who couldn’t feel the cold temperatures, Thermo was starting to shiver. After several more minutes Thermo said, “I hate to spoil your fun, but I need to warm up. Could we please head south back to the United States?”
Puffy and Fluffy reluctantly agreed, and saying a fond goodbye to Flake and his many brothers and sisters, the trio traveled southward toward warmer and more familiar climes.
In the real world, snow showers (or flurries as the lightest snowfalls are called) can fall from cumulus clouds over the Arctic even in the summer, and during the winter over most of the Northern Hemisphere. As long as the atmosphere has enough rising motion to create precipitation, flurries can form. The molecules in ice crystals join to one another in a six-sided structure to give snowflakes their familiar shape. But in the coldest temperatures, snowflakes look more like thin plates, needles or hollow columns. Typically, temperatures must be below 15 degrees Fahrenheit for flurries to form in cumulus clouds, though they can fall through somewhat warmer air and reach the ground where air temperatures are as high as the upper 30s to low 40s. During outbreaks of arctic temperatures, cumulus clouds can bring flurries even into the southern United States.
The text and artwork are copyright by Guy Walton. I would like to get this book published. Please drop me a note if you are willing to help.
To see the rest of the World of Thermo stories click: http://www.guyonclimate.com/category/worldofthermo/