Story 7. Let it Snow!
Once more, Thermo needed to be consoled by Puffy and Fluffy after his encounter with Skates. He asked himself, “Why are most storms so destructive and harmful to my friends the humans? Dr. Carson certainly created me to warn them and maybe prevent storms from becoming so bad?”
Puffy said, “Maybe you tried to thwart Skates the wrong way. What if you used your jet stream and air mass altering powers to cool the next ice storm so that snow falls. Maybe snow will fall like what happened when we were in Canada. Only snow would fall, which wouldn’t be as bad as slick, destructive ice.”
Thermo said, “Puffy, that’s a good idea. The next time I have an encounter with Skates, I’ll try your method to spoil his rotten plans.”
It wasn’t long before Skates did try to strike again across the Deep South. It was February 9th of 1973. This time Skates wanted to produce an ice storm very deep into central Alabama, most of Georgia and even further south in the Carolinas than that of his last unfortunate, successful attack in January. Thermo knew something may be up across the South when he was flying around taking some readings. The atmosphere was cold but there remained enough warm air for freezing rain. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was already pooling and beginning to spread north. Before precipitation started to fall Thermo guided more cold air southward to that warm layer of the atmosphere that could melt snow falling from the sky and change the precipitation to rain or sleet. Because of his small size this took a lot of time and effort. Thermo was jetting around making sure that Skates did not see him.
To Skate’s surprise, heavy snow was the end result of his storm making efforts. Up to sixteen inches of snow fell from Montgomery to Columbus to Macon to Augusta into Columbia the night of February 10th. Skates said to himself, “Drats, I wonder where I screwed up? I’m sure that I placed the layers of my icy storm cake properly before precipitation fell. I wonder if that flying square thermometer thing had anything to do with this? Skates did not notice Thermo, so he just shrugged his icy shoulders and went back northward to his lair to rest in where else…Iceland.
Once the skies cleared later in the day on the 10th, Thermo invited Fluffy and Puffy to play with him in the snow. Fluffy and Puffy whisked around the central Georgia city of Macon looking at a lot of the human children building snowmen. Thermo decided to examine one of the larger snowmen that were built in a park. To Thermo’s surprise and delight the thing came to life and said, “Hello, my name is Snowy. What are you? You look like a thermometer. Do you want to take my temperature? I’m starting to feel a little warm. Do I have a fever?” Yes, Thermo sadly knew that the temperature was already starting to approach 40 after meeting Snowy.
Thermo changed the subject and said, “Wow, you came to life. Can I meet those children?”
Snowy said, “Yes, they are over here. Their names are Nicky and Sydney. Nicky is seven and Sydney is eight.” During the rest of the afternoon Thermo, Puffy, Fluffy, Sydney and Nicky played around the park throwing snowballs at each other. It was the most fun Thermo had in several years. Thermo also had great satisfaction that he had finally thwarted a villain. The heavy snow, for the most part, was a delightful inconvenience for residents of the mid-South since temperatures rapidly warmed above freezing a couple of days after the storm. Sadly, though, Thermo knew that Snowy would not survive the next day, but was glad to play with him during his brief existence.
After giving the matter more thought Thermo told Snowy what would happen to him in just a matter of hours. Thermo offered Snowy life extending asylum in the arctic, which Snowy gladly accepted. Nicky and Sydney helped rig Snowy to Thermo on a homemade sleigh and said their goodbyes. Thermo then took Snowy in tow to a nice town called Barrow, Alaska, which remained cold enough for the rest of the winter and spring for Snowy to live a long life.
In the real world I witnessed that snowstorm, which produced the deepest snow for the widest area of the Deep South since 1973 with up to 18 inches of powder reported in some spots from central and southern Alabama through central Georgia into the Carolinas. Only around two inches of snow fell as far north as Atlanta and Athens. The storm was one of the oddest meteorological systems in my memory. Temperatures during the event the night of the 9th through the 10th were in the 20’s. The snow was not the typical wet snow that falls across the South, but was very powdery in nature. Once again, the weather forecasters at the time did not even remotely correctly forecast the intensity of the storm.
As an eleven year old boy I was delighted to play in the white stuff and made some big snowmen with my sister Dorothy, who was nine at the time. I can remember that a couple who had moved south from Michigan to farm, the Smiths, got out their old (and what they thought would be stored forever) sleigh and hooked the thing up to some horses. In Tignall they delighted a lot of children with long rides the afternoon of February the 10th. We had 12 inches of snow in Tignall from the storm, which was just far enough south to get a lot of the white stuff. I was told that Lincolnton, a town just a few miles to the north received only two inches. This snowstorm was one of my favorite childhood memories.
The text and artwork are copyright Guy Walton.
Artwork is by my friend, Alyssa Josue.