“Everyone please pay attention! This will be on the final,” Squeaked Dr. Ed Malarkey. His junior meteorology students at the University of Central Kansas rarely had interest in his Air Pollution lectures, and with the first flurries of winter beginning to fall on a Thursday afternoon late in the semester, his class was glued to the window.

“I called it!” exclaimed Erin Wallace, the straight-A student from Greensburg.

“Wow! You’re really good at forecasting,” said Brian Dudley of Wichita, as Erin blushed. “Even the weather service didn’t expect this.”

“I bet they cancel classes tomorrow!” chimed Fuller Glass of Hays, America.

“Doubt it,” snarled Fuller’s twin brother M.T. Glass. “They won’t cancel class the week before finals.”

“Can’t you boys agree on anything?” asked Samantha Royle.

“We agree that you’re beautiful, Samantha Royle,” the twins said in unison as they turned their gaze toward her.

“Does Johnson County get lots of snow like this, Samantha Royle?” Fuller asked dreamily.

“We sure do!” exclaimed Samantha Royle as the Brian and Glass twins leaned in. “In fact-”

“It’s hardly different than here!” interrupted an irritated Erin as she grabbed Brian’s arm.

“We get good snow like this in Wichita too!” Brian boasted. “Wouldn’t you agree, Samantha Royle, that us big city folks get the best snow?”

“Can we focus now?” pleaded the jittery Dr. Malarkey. The Coffeyville native took a large sip from his Venti Starbucks mug and resumed writing on the chalk board. While irritated that his classroom did not yet have dry erase boards, he was pleased that the town of Happy College, UCK’s home, finally got it’s first Starbucks.

Dr. Malarkey Continued, “When a smoke plume disperses in a neutral environment below a sharp temperature inversion, you get fumigation, which can be very dangerous?”

“Why is plumigation dangerous?” asked Fuller.

“Uhh, idiot, it’s FUMigation,” said M.T.

“Uhh, numbskull, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that a fume plumigates.” Fuller retorted.

“Can. We. PLEASE. Focus?” interrupted the desperate Dr. Malarkey. The classroom abruptly hushed. “Thank you. Now. It’s dangerous when a fume plumigates because OH CRAP, look what you’ve all done!”

The class burst into laughter and then chatter as Dr. Malarkey wiped the sweat away from his gradually enlarging forehead. He often wondered how rewarding his career at the EPA would have been had he not abandoned the agency for an academia position back in his home state. Returning to Kansas frequently reminded him why he left in the first place, and today’s class was just the latest instance.

Dr. Malarkey cleared his throat ready to defeatingly dismiss his class when the still agitated Erin spoke up.

“Dr. Malarkey, do you believe in the snownado?”

The classroom again fell silent.

“I don’t follow,” said Dr. Malarkey.

“You know. Like a tornado in a snowstorm,” said Erin. “I think there’s a good chance one will occur this week!”

“Well, my expertise is in air pollution, but I can assure you that this snownado is thermodynamically impossible,” the professor replied.

“Don’t be so surrrrrre,” a voice croaked from outside this classroom. “May I come in?” asked Dr. Misty Summers, the frizzly haired, oddly dressed dynamics professor from Stull.

“By all means,” grumbled the exasperated Dr. Malarkey.

With all eyes on Dr. Summers, she enthusiastically began, “While extremely rare, the aforementioned snownado requires only 5 atmospheric ingredients. My cousin used to be one of the most renown storm chasers and has seen one with her own eyes.”

“You know what? No,” interrupted Dr. Malarkey. “You’re always spouting your non-peer reviewed nonsense, and I won’t allow that in my classroom.”

“Very well then,” replied Dr. Summers. She then turned to Erin and asked, “Do you plan on chasing this upcoming storm?”

“I’d like to!” Erin said with renewed confidence. “We’d have to hit the road tomorrow morning though.”

“How about I provide a special classroom session for you guys tomorrow morning before you head out?” Dr. Summers offered. “Does 8 AM work?”

“8 AM!?” The class moaned in horror.

“That’s when I go to bed!” Brian cried.

“Why don’t you have us dig a graveyard while we’re at it?” M.T. snarked.

“Take it or leave it,” said Dr. Summers. “If you decide you want to chase a potential snownado, you can find me in my office at 8.”

Dr. Summers waved as she exited the classroom. The campus foghorn hummed immediately after signifying the end of the class period, and the students rushed outside to the freshly falling snow in jubilation. Dr. Malarkey sighed, reached underneath his lecturing podium, and pulled out a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Creme from which he poured a healthy dose into what remained of his coffee.


“So are you gonna come storm chasing tomorrow?” Erin asked Brian as they together rolled a large pile of snow on the ground into a ball.

“Do you really think a snownado can happen?” Brian replied. “That would be amazing to see, but I’m skeptical.”

“Don’t waste your time,” said M.T. who along with his twin, rolled a second large snowball beside them. “There’s no such thing.”

“What kind of Glass are you, M.T.?” Fuller chimed in. “That’s not how Memaw raised us. I’m in.”

The Glass brothers stacked their snowball on top of Erin and Brian’s while Samantha Royle walked up with sticks and a carrot to adorn the newly built snowman.

“What do you think about chasing?” Erin asked her.

Before Samantha Royle could speak, the snowfall abruptly turned to rain.

“Our snowman!” Shrieked Samantha Royle.

“Welp. Don’t think we’re going to see a snownado if it’s not even snowing,” said M.T.

“I think he’s right,” Brian said to Erin.

“Guys, this is just the warm front! This was supposed to happen!” Erin pleaded. “The cold front will form in the lee of the Rockies tomorrow and that should be enough to generate the snow squalls capable of producing a snownado.”

“It’s still raining though,” M.T. rebutted. “Not sure if you realized, but temperatures need to dip below freezing for their to be frozen precipitation.”

“It is below freezing right now, look!” exclaimed Fuller as he pointed to ice forming on the stick limbs of their snowman.

“He lives!” Shouted Samantha Royle. “It’s freezing rain! It’s a UCK miracle!”

The 5 students stood and admired the ice man they had sculpted together.

“What should we call him, Samantha Royle?” asked Fuller.

“Yeah, what should we name our ice man, Samantha Royle?” asked M.T.

Samantha Royle smiled and replied, “Let’s call him…Hoar Frosty.”

“With all due respect, Samantha Royle,” Brian said, “This isn’t hoar frost.”

“I’m aware,” Samantha Royle replied. “Hoar frost is just fun to say cause it sounds like…you know.”

The junior classmates then joined hands and began to sing to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman.”

Hoar Frosty the Iceman
Was a icy slippery soul
With a thermometer pipe and a frozen nose
And two eyes from cans of Skoal

Hoar Frosty the Iceman
Is pseudoscience, they say
He was made of ice but to our device
He came to life one day

There must have been some magic
In that inversion in the sky
For when the rain fell on his head
It began to freeze and dry

Hoar Frosty the Iceman
Was alive as he could be
And the students claimed his forecasts got blamed
Just the same as you and me

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
Look at Hoar Frosty go
Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
Tree branches in your window

Hoar Frosty the Iceman
Global warming he understood
So he said, “Let’s run and we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt for good”

Down to the village
With a sling psychrometer in his hand
Running here and there, all around the square,
Sayin’, “fight me if you can”

He led them down the streets of town
Right to an ASOS unit
And he only paused a moment
When the students hollered, “Don’t ruin it”

Hoar Frosty the Iceman
Left the students in dismay
But he waved goodbye, sayin’ “Don’t you cry,
I’ll ice your town again some day.”

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
Look at Hoar Frosty go
Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
I slipped and stubbed my toe

He’ll be back
Yes he will
Again someday
See you next year Hoar Frosty…unless we get omega blocking!

The meteorology juniors released hands and silently paused for a moment.

Samantha Royle finally broke the silence. “Sorry I didn’t answer your question, Erin Wallace. Let’s go catch the snownado!”

“Hooray!” Erin exclaimed as she embraced Samantha Royle.

“Well, in that case, I’m in too!” Brian exclaimed as Erin rolled her eyes.

“You people realize you’re nuts, right?” M.T. said. “We should be spending this weekend studying for finals rather than chasing after mythical meteorology. But you guys are like family to me. Even you, Fuller! No other school in Kansas can claim that they’re a family, and I wouldn’t be a UCK Fightin’ Wedge if I didn’t join y’all on your ridiculous adventure. Count me in.”

To Be Continued.

(Next: The Great Snownado Miracle – Chapter 2)