Story 9 Let it Snow!
After his encounter with Skates, Thermo went to Puffy and Fluffy for consolation once more. As his two friends tried to cheer him up, Thermo asked, “Why are storms so destructive and harmful to everyone? And why am I not better at warning the humans of nature’s power? Isn’t that why Dr. Key created me? Surely he wants me to prevent danger and loss.” Looking sorrowfully at Puffy and Fluffy he pleaded, “Doesn’t he?”
Puffy thought for a moment and then said, “Maybe you have been going about this the wrong way. Your jet engines aren’t powerful enough to stop a storm that has already formed. What if you used them to change the atmosphere before the storm even gets started?”
“That’s right,” Fluffy added. “Then instead of a destructive ice storm, the humans would get snow like we had that time in Canada. That wasn’t dangerous. That was fun!”
Thermo considered this. “Yes,” he said. “That’s a good idea. The next time I meet up with Skates, I’ll go for it!”
Thermo didn’t have to wait long. The very next month Skates tried to strike the Deep South again. This time, his plan was to create an ice storm not only in north Georgia, but also throughout the entire state, as well as in central Alabama and in North and South Carolina.
As Thermo flew back and forth taking temperature readings, he was alarmed to find that conditions were developing similar to last time. “Not again!” he shouted in frustration. It was cold, but there was just enough warm air in between the cold layers to help create freezing rain and ice. Not only that, but he noticed that more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was beginning to spread northward over land. He knew Skates was trying to make a repeat performance.
Thermo didn’t have a moment to lose. Before precipitation started to fall, he jetted northward, and using his engines, guided more cold air southward. It was a time-consuming task, and most of the day passed before he could tell that he had made any difference in the air mass across the South.
“Now let’s take some temperatures!” he whooped. Keeping careful to stay hidden from Skates’s sight, the flying thermometer measured the temperature at various altitudes exactly the way he had done a month before. Sure enough, Thermo’s work had paid off. This time, the air temperature had reached the freezing mark all the way from the clouds down to the ground.
“That’s how it’s done!” Thermo cried victoriously.
From above, the evil ice monster Skates perched on a flat dark stratus cloud to watch his icy handiwork unfold. “That’s it, that’s it,” he laughed menacingly, watching snowflakes spiraling downward from the cloud. “The precipitation starts as snow and falls toward the ground. Then it falls into a layer of warmer air and…”
Skates abruptly became silent. “What?” he cried in pained surprise as he watched the still-frozen snowflakes continue to fall. “Why aren’t they melting? What happened to my layer of warm air? He watched in horror as the snowflakes continued their downward journey and gently settled onto the ground below. Everywhere he looked there was a thick layer of white, with not a patch of ice anywhere to be found.
“That meddlesome little thermometer!” Skates howled. “I’ll bet he’s behind all this!” Skates dropped to a lower altitude and scanned the ever-whitening landscape below, reluctantly admitting that Thermo had outsmarted him. In fiery fury he cried out, “That scoundrel! That little cheater!”
Skates, boiling mad, dropped to the ground and pounded it with his fist, roaring in heated rage. As he did, slush and melted snow splashed into the air. All of a sudden his hot anger turned to panic. He noticed what looked like sweat drops rolling down his increasingly damp face. Temperatures at ground level had already begun to warm above freezing, taking its toll on Skates’s normally frigid exterior.
“I’m melting!” Skates screamed. In a flash he sped away, escaping northward before thawing any further, bound for his home in Iceland, and far away from where he could do any more harm to the southern United States.
Meanwhile Thermo had dashed off to get his friends. “Puffy! Fluffy! Come and see!” he called gleefully. “It’s snow!”
As the skies cleared, Fluffy and Puffy followed Thermo to witness the shimmering scene on the ground. Everywhere they looked, human children were building snowmen, throwing snowballs and making snow angels. Fluffy laughed and pointed to a snowman wearing a striped scarf, a pot for a hat and a carrot for a nose. “He almost looks real!” she giggled.
Thermo jetted down for a closer look. Just then, the snowman turned his head up to Thermo and said, “Hello, my name is Snowy. Who are you?”
Surprised but charmed, Thermo answered, “I’m Thermo, the flying thermometer.”
“A thermometer!” Snowy cried. “Can you take my temperature? I’m starting to feel a little feverish.”
“Sure,” said Thermo, as he set himself to the task.
With apprehension, Thermo saw that indeed Snowy’s temperature was rising, along with the air temperature around them. It wouldn’t be too many hours before Snowy would be little more than a puddle. Thermo changed the subject. “I’d like to meet the children who built you. What are their names?”
Snowy brightened. “That’s Nicky there. He’s seven years old. And Sydney is eight. They love to have fun in the snow.”
Snowy’s words proved true. The rest of the afternoon, Thermo, Puffy, Fluffy, Sydney and Nicky played and laughed and threw snowballs at one another. It was the most fun Thermo had enjoyed in years. Adding to his joy was the knowledge that he had been victorious over one of the atmosphere’s most heartless brutes.
Too soon, it was time to leave. As the children and the little clouds said their goodbyes, Thermo looked with sadness at Snowy’s shiny and now wet face and suddenly had an idea. He shouted to his friends, “Fluffy! Puffy! I need a hand. Nicky and Sydney, let’s talk.”
Before long, Thermo, Puffy and Fluffy had rigged a homemade sleigh and had placed Snowy on it. “We’re taking you north for the rest of the winter,” explained Thermo. “Alaska has perfect weather for snowmen this time of year!”
Snowy’s smile would have been from ear to ear if the children had remembered to give him ears. But Thermo could tell he was pleased.
“Wait, we need more clouds!” exclaimed Puffy. “Fluffy and I aren’t strong enough to pull the sleigh by ourselves.”
“Coming right up,” said Thermo. He gave a loud whistle, and before you could say “yuletide,” eight arctic fair weather clouds appeared and hitched themselves to the front of the sleigh. Puffy smiled and asked with a wink, “Which ones are Dasher and Dancer?”
Thermo laughed. “Ready?” he yelled. “Let’s go!”
As Fluffy and Puffy and Thermo shot into the sky beside their new snow friend towed by eight tiny clouds, Thermo felt happy. He knew that not only had he finally thwarted one of nature’s cruelest villains, but he was now in the business of making others happy too.
In the real world, this author witnessed the snowstorm of February 9-10, 1973. Just one month after the infamous southern ice storm, this event produced up to 18 inches of snow in some spots from central and southern Alabama through central Georgia into the Carolinas. Areas farther north such as Atlanta and Athens received only around two inches. The storm was one of the oddest meteorological systems in my memory. Temperatures during the event the night of February 9 through 10 were in the 20s. The snow was not the typical wet snow that falls across the South, but a fine powder. Once again, the weather forecasters at the time did not even remotely forecast the intensity of the storm correctly.
As an eleven-year old boy I was delighted to play in the white stuff. I made some big snowmen with my sister Dorothy, who was nine at the time. I remember a couple that had moved south from Michigan to my town of Tignall, Georgia in order to farm some land. Their name was Smith. They got out their old (and what they thought would be stored forever) sleigh and hooked the thing up to some horses. The Smiths delighted the children of Tignall with long rides the afternoon of February 10. The storm dumped twelve inches of snow on Tignall. I was told that Lincolnton, just a few miles to the north, received only two inches. This snowstorm was one of my favorite childhood memories.
The Climate Guy
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/