World of Thermo… Story 20… Storm of the Century

Before the planet began to see a resumed warming trend after the Mount Pinatubo eruption an exceptionally strong, late winter storm occurred in March 1993. Dr. Carson, Thermo and many meteorologists across North America noticed a weird, rare, buckling pattern to the jet stream forecast to develop after March 10th. Arctic air had been building over Canada in early March. Thermo was sent out to investigate the situation with clear instructions not to interfere with any consequences that resulted from the weather pattern. Both Dr. Carson and even Thermo, by this point, knew that Thermo was too weak to affect a major storm significantly. Also by the 11th meteorologists were very aware of how strong the potential blizzard would be, so the general populace was well warned.

Around the U.S./Canadian border Thermo was surprised to see his very old friend Snowy in the sky. Snowy looked like a cross between Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.  Riding in a sleigh driven by 8 rambunctious cumulus clouds, Snowy had sported a black beard and a red cap. Upon spotting Thermo, Snowy said, “Ho, Ho, Ho, I’m going to help create a late season blizzard for the U.S. I’m feeling feisty these days after that volcano cooled things down a bit. I have brought along trillions of flake friends to help me out.”

Thermo said, “It’s nice to see you, but please don’t cause too much havoc.” Thinking that Snowy had a heart (the thing was made out of coal, of course), Thermo made his way back to Hawaii. Thermo and even Dr. Carson were alarmed to hear of what had happened by the 13th, the day that what was termed “The Storm of the Century” occurred.

Video and all the news outlets indicated that Snowy had been a very bad snowman. A blizzard had killed and stranded many people from the Deep South through much of the Ohio Valley, Middle Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. Snowy had teamed up with the Clan of Storms over the South to produce tornadoes in Florida as well as winds and a storm surge that Phoon would be proud of. Thermo thought to himself, “Well that’s the last time I rescue a snowman.”

Carson did remind Thermo that Snowy was part of nature, which was morally neutral. Carson said to Thermo, “Snowy and the Flakes have always been with us producing snow storms across the planet. Snowy was just playing, but I have to admit that whatever heart he had has grown cold (pun intended). I hope Snowy does feel guilty about those children not to mention the adults he did hurt this time around.”

“Oh well”, sighed Thermo, “Live and learn, but I must have to add that Snowy was created by man in the first place. Perhaps Snowy has some of man’s bad traits.” Carson replied, “Good point Thermo. Now you are learning much more about my fellow human beings. You’ve come a long way since the Super Outbreak of 1974 when you were a young teenage measuring device.”

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In reality, The Storm of the Century (in this case the 20th), also known as the 1993 Superstore or the Great Blizzard of 1993, formed over the Gulf of Mexico on March 12 and dissipated in the North Atlantic Ocean on March 15. The storm was unique for its intensity, massive size and wide-reaching effects. At its height, the storm stretched from Canada southward towards Central America, but its main impact was on the Eastern United States. Areas as far south as central Alabama and Georgia received 6 to 8 inches of snow, and cities such as Birmingham, Alabama received up to a foot with isolated reports of 16 inches. Even the Florida Panhandle reported up to 4 inches with hurricane-force wind gusts and record low barometric pressures. Between Louisiana and Cuba, hurricane-force winds produced high storm surges across northwestern Florida, which along with scattered tornadoes killed dozens of people. Record cold temperatures were seen across portions of the South and East in the wake of this storm. In the United States, the storm was responsible for the loss of power to over 10 million customers. Nearly 320 people perished from the Storm of the Century.

I was very impressed at the time with the storm while living in downtown Atlanta on March 12th, 1993. This is the first time that I had ever experienced a true blizzard with winds of over 40 mph and snow piling as high as a foot. Storm totals across the city ranged from 4 inches at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport on the south side to as much as 16 inches in Marietta on the north side of the metropolitan area. For the first time in my life I saw thunder snow when heavy rain changed over to heavy snow on the morning of the 12th. As I recall since living in Atlanta since 1976, for the first-time daffodil blooms were frozen and killed in the middle of March because by the morning of the 13th record lows between 10F and 15F were reported across the city.

As far as global warming (or cooling) goes, there is not a firm connection to the 2 to 3 year cooling due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo leading to a very atypical jet pattern producing the Storm of the Century in March of 1993.

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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