Muffled sounds of thunder rattled through the Chevy Malibu as it trudged east along the snowy dusted highway. Even the thundersnow couldn’t excite the 4 University of Central Kansas meteorology juniors inside the car.
“I can’t believe Samantha Royle left,” M.T. monotonously droned from his shotgun seat.
“I can’t believe Samantha Royle is from Missouri,” said Brian matching M.T.’s tone. “Just when you think you really know somebody.”
Sitting in the backseat with Brian, Erin reached her hand out to his shoulder to console him, but was quickly brushed away.
Fuller blankly gazed at the road mindlessly driving through the raging flurries dodging his windshield. His mind couldn’t stop replaying Samantha Royle’s shocking revelation, the way he and the other students reacted to it, and the tears rolling down Samantha Royle’s face as The Panhandle Hooker embraced her and helped her into the Mercedes to return to Oklahoma. Questions stormed through Fuller’s mind, and he felt doubts like never before. “Are other people I know also from Missouri? Did we overreact to Samantha Royle’s news? Should we keep chasing or go back and get her? Is there even such thing as a snownado?”
Fuller took a deep breath preparing to speak, but before he could get a word out, Erin shoved her phone into the front seat and blurted, “This storm is rotating!”
“That’s a couplet!” M.T. exclaimed pointing at the image on Erin’s phone. He then grabbed Fuller’s shoulder and shook him, “Oh my God, this is really gonna happen.”
“Wow. Yeah,” Fuller said with poorly feigned excitement.
“M.T., I thought you weren’t allowed to drive,” Brian joked. “I can tell you guys apart most of the time, but I think you switched bodies here.”
“Yeah, Fuller. Are you okay?” Erin inquired. “I know it sucks that Samantha left, but we’re going to see a snownado!”
Fuller took a deep breath, wiggled his shoulders, and began quickly nodding as the other students stared intently. “You guys are right. Let’s go get this snownado!”
The meteorology juniors cheered as Fuller put the pedal to the floor.
The wall cloud rotated above them about a half mile to the north with downbursts of snow and hail intermittently wrapping around its outer flanks. The students stood outside the car holding their phones out for photos and videos.
“We are in prime position, gentlemen,” Erin stated while making the okay sign with her hand.
“And there’s not another soul around,” Brian added. “I could really get used to this lack of storm chaser convergence.”
M.T. laughed and suggested, “Maybe we should tell everyone we didn’t see a snownado so it stays this way.”
The whole gang laughed and began coaxing the wall cloud to spawn a snownado.
“C’mon baby, drop!” Brian exclaimed.
“Yeah, just a little one! We don’t need a wedge. Just any snownado,” said Erin.
Almost on cue, lightning struck and a funnel began to descend from the low rotating cloud base. The students began jumping up and down yelling every expletive in the book and deeming them holy.
Erin embraced Brian, and M.T. shouted “It’s happening!” while waving his arms above his head. Even Fuller, who was still visibly bothered by leaving behind Samantha Royle, cracked a smile.
The funnel quickly ascended back into the wall cloud however, and the students groaned.
“It’s, it’s gone,” M.T. stammered. “We were so close.”
“Maybe, maybe another funnel will form?” Brian wishcasted.
As the students quietly stared at the storm, the rotation in the wall cloud began to weaken and fill in with snow. Similar expletives were blurted only this time with much less enthusiasm.
“I guess that’s it. That was our chance.” M.T. said.
“Hold up!” Brian shouted pointing at his phone. “The mesocyclone is recycling to the northeast!”
The students raced to the car and sat impatiently waiting for Fuller to start the engine. Fuller held is key in the ignition without turning it.
“We messed up, y’all.” Fuller said turning to the group. “Samantha Royle should be here.”
M.T. groaned and Brian argued, “We’re not gonna have time to get Samantha Royle and keep storm chasing. She’s Southwest and we need to go Northeast.”
“What do you think, Erin?” Fuller asked as she gazed out the window.
“He’s right. We’ve made a huge mistake,” Erin said. The others stared intently at her as she turned toward them. “I’ve been wanting to see a snownado so badly that I’ve forgotten that it’s the storms inside us that we should be chasing. Johnson county or Missouri, Samantha Royle is our friend. We need to go get her.”
They sat in silence for a moment until M.T. and Brian nodded in agreement.
“Let’s go get our friend!” M.T. declared.
“Alright!” Fuller exclaimed as he started the Malibu and put it in gear. He turned the wheel to head back west and jammed the gas. The others cheered as Fuller made the sharp U-turn from the highway shoulder, but a large bang rattled the car once again. As the car veered into the ditch, they quickly realized the sound of the tire blowing out was no thundersnow.
Erin walked away from the car to distance herself from Brian who sat inside pouting and the Glass twins who were standing outside screaming at each other. From afar she could hear M.T. shout, “First you talk me into this stupid chase! Then you talk me out of it when we might actually see something! But now we’re just stuck here because of you! You should be the one with a suspended license!”
As the wind and snow from the rear flank downdraft pelted her face, she sighed deeply, and began softly singing to the tune of “Silent Night”. The brothers stopped arguing when they heard the sound of her soothing voice. Brian got out of the car, and along with M.T. and Fuller, walked toward Erin to join in.
All is qualm
All is blurred.
Round yon virga smothered and piled
Missing weather so sunny and mild,
Vis of seventy feet!
Vis of seventy feet
Snow squalls churn
Then they turn.
Funnels descend from heaven afar
Tornado sirens sing Alleluia,
Then the nader is born!
Then the nader is born
On it snakes
Like a lizard.
Radiant snowflakes stinging your face
Snowdrifts forming all over the place,
Snownado, at thy birth!
Snownado, at thy birth
The 4 students embraced for a long moment.
“So now what?” M.T. asked. “Where are we gonna find a tow truck out here?”
Again, as if on cue, a beam of headlights from the west peeked through the snow blinding the students as it headed toward them. A large red armored tornado-intercepting truck with deer antlers on the hood slowed to a stop along side them. The driver side window rolled down revealing a older man with a large white beard wearing a red Hawaiian shirt. The man cleared his throat and grinned.
“How’d you kids get in this mess? I hope you weren’t being naughty, oh HO HO HO!”
To Be Concluded
(Next: The Great Snownado Miracle – Chapter 5)