World of Thermo… Story 19…Andrew

It had been a very quiet hurricane season. A phenomenon known as El Nino had been producing unfavorable wind shear for organized tropical development over most of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. In reality, El Nino is a pool of warmer than average sea surface temperatures that occasionally develops from off the coast of Peru westward through the Pacific Ocean. This warm water can play havoc with jet stream circulations high in the atmosphere around the globe when they are present.

Phoon was getting antsy that it could not organize a decent storm and play havoc with some coastline of North America due to those strong westerly winds. Finally, in mid- August the winds let up enough for Phoon to make its move and in a big way. Thermo had been flying around taking temperatures of the Northern Hemisphere all summer long in 1992, and also noticed the lack of tropical activity in the Atlantic. Thermo had been proven nearly powerless to avert the destructive power of the Lady of the Storms during his encounter with Camille in 1969, but had fooled the Lord of the Storms when he encountered Allan and Heatia in 1980. Thermo was aware of and felt guilty about having to ignore the destructive power of Hugo when that incarnation of Phoon slammed into Charleston, S.C. during 1989 with winds of 140 mph.

At his T.V. weather office in Miami, Florida Steven Woods was monitoring the situation in the central Atlantic. He was wondering if westerly winds would continue to rip at a disturbance trying to organize there knowing that low level atmospheric flow would steer any developing system towards South Florida. What Mr. Woods did not know was that Phoon would power up the system as quickly as just about any in human history near the Bahamas. Thermo saw the storm developing near the Bahamas, also. This time around Thermo thought that he could intervene in time to prevent another disaster as had occurred along the Carolina coast just three years earlier. If Thermo could use his jets just enough to keep those westerly winds going near the Bahamas Phoon may be thwarted for the entire season.

Not heading the advice from his maker over his radio receiver, Thermo sped towards the disturbance and started to influence the upper winds with his small jets. Since Phoon knew that this chance was about its last in 1992, it was keeping a close eye on his latest incarnation developing near the Bahamas.  Phoon quickly noticed the two by four flying thermometer, which the natural monster had not seen since spawning Allen in 1980. Phoon said “Aha, I knew that sooner or later I would see you again. I’ll knock you down from the sky permanently this time.” Shocked that he was found out so easily, but not dissuaded, Thermo increased the winds over the poorly organized circulation of the forming storm and nearly dissipated the thing, but Phoon was two strong.

Phoon had already transformed into Andrew. Once more a giant, evil octopus looking eye was forming in the center of the disturbance with spiral bands of storms emanating from the center. One of the bands lashed out at Thermo who blasted his jets and sped quickly away towards South Florida. Again, just like with Allen, Phoon was in hot pursuit shouting in a loud male voice, “I’ll get you, you little robot thing!”  Phoon, A.K.A.Andrew, had become so angry that it became monstrous in size very quickly. Thermo thought to himself, “What have I done?”

Thermo also noticed planes monitoring Andrew from the National Hurricane Center, as he had noticed many times before since Camille. Thermo marveled that Phoon did not lash out at the planes, probably; he assumed correctly, that the hurricane hunters, as they are called, were just monitoring the progress of the hurricane and had no power to diminish the storm. In reality, the people that man and maintain the hurricane hunter fleet are meteorological heroes. Those that flew missions, particularly before 1990, did risk their lives in older planes. The fleet now has very little chance of going down even while monitoring the most powerful of storms.

All the while Mr. Woods had been looking at the situation from his T.V. station in South Florida both on satellite and on radar. He could have sworn that the radar was picking up a little blip approaching the area ahead of the building, massive storm but thought that this was just a feedback quirk due to rapid intensification of a hurricane that he had never witnessed. Steve Woods had already been broadcasting for much of the night of the 23rd and continued to give nearly continuous updates when Andrew blasted ashore on the 24th of August 1992. Once more Thermo had outrun Phoon’s wrath. This time around Thermo felt so guilty about stirring up Andrew into just about the worst hurricane possible he felt the need to aid the broadcaster protecting the humans instead of just jetting away to safety. Unnoticed by Photon, Thermo used his jets to shield the T.V. station where Mr. Woods was broadcasting from, or so he thought. The building that Mr. Woods was broadcasting from could have withstood Andrew on its own, but at least Thermo felt that he accomplished something positive after the incident.

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In reality, the center of the circulation of the massive storm went over Homestead Florida with sustained winds of 165 mph. Although Miami did not receive a direct blow, there was severe damage throughout South Florida leading to much hardship and even looting in the coming days. Andrew made a second landfall with winds of 115 mph in southern Louisiana.

  •  In the real world, Bryan Norcross, A.K.A. Steven Woods in our fictional story, was a real meteorology and broadcast hero by monitoring Andrew from its inception off the coast of Africa until it crashed into Florida on the 24th of August.  At one-point Mr. Norcross broadcast an epic 23 hours straight to warn residents of South Florida. Bryan Norcross has been a hurricane expert at The Weather Channel since 2010. Check out Mr. Norcross’ latest book on Andrew, My Hurricane Andrew Story: The story behind the preparation, the terror, the resilience, and the renowned TV coverage of the Great Hurricane of 1992. Paperback – May 13, 2017

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.

My friend Alyssa Josue drew the art.

To see the rest of the World of Thermo stories click: http://www.guyonclimate.com/category/worldofthermo/

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