(Today’s chapter concludes the magical holiday Adventure of the UCK meteorology juniors. Read Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 to learn how they got here.)

“I don’t understand,” Brian said. “You’re Santa, but you’re not Santa?”

“Oh HO HO,” The bearded man in the armored truck chuckled. “Yes, my name is Santa, but no, I’m not Santa Claus.

The UCK meteorology juniors, sans Samantha Royle, gave confused stares to the bearded man.

“The name’s Santa Ana,” the bearded man continued. “I’m not usually around these parts, especially this time of year. Too damn cold for me. I prefer a nice warm breeze in my Southern California home. I love to storm chase though, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to see a snownado.”

“We’re after a snownado too!” Erin exclaimed.

“Well, we were,” M.T. said while looking back toward the car in the ditch.

“Chevy Malibu, huh. I want to say…’97?” Santa Ana inquired.

“You’re good,” said Fuller.

“Well I think you kids have been very good this year,” said Santa Ana as the students turned their confused looks toward each other. Santa Ana climbed out the truck and opened the hatch of the steel truck bed cover. Barely reaching inside, he pulled out a tire. “This one should fit your car perfectly.”

Santa Ana also pulled out a tire jack, wrench, and air compressor and helped the students replace the tire.

“Thank you, Santa!” Fuller exclaimed in bewilderment. “But why were you carrying around a tire that specifically fit our car?”

“I carry around all kinds of tires,” Santa Ana replied. “You’d be surprised how much equipment I can fit in this little truck, oh HO HO! So are you kids ready to chase again?”

“Ummm…” The students waffled in unison.

“We want to, and we greatly appreciate your help, Santa,” Erin said. “But we need to head back to Hooker to get our friend.”

“Do you mean, Samantha Royle?” Asked Santa Ana as he opened the backseat door with a tinted window.

“Samantha Royle!” The students exclaimed. They rushed to the car to embrace her as she climbed out.

“I’m so sorry we left you behind,” Fuller said. “We promise we were on our way back to get you!”

“I’m sorry we made a big deal about you being from, well, you know,” M.T. added. “You’re still our friend no matter what.”

“And I’m sorry I didn’t stay with y’all,” responded Samantha Royle. “I was afraid of all the shit you’d give me, but I soon realized y’all give each other shit all the time, and that’s the entire purpose of friendship. I’m so happy y’all were coming back to get me, but I came back to you cause I wanted to keep storm chasing!”

The students gave Samantha Royle another big group hug. “Wait, so how did you find us? And where did you did meet Santa?” Brian asked.

“Funny you should ask,” Santa Ana chimed in. “I ran into Samantha Royle and some lady at a Hooker bar. The lady said she’s seen the snownado before. I asked if she’d join the storm chase, but she had some kind of appointment, but she did say that Samantha Royle here would know how to find it.”

“I told Santa we need to find y’all first thing though,” Samantha Royle added. “And here we are! Turns out my Jackson County navigation skills aren’t too shabby.”

“That was awesome!” M.T. exclaimed, “But we still don’t know how to find the snownado.”

“There’s 2 new storms that have popped up from the outflow our last one,” said Brian showing M.T. his phone. “Maybe one of these cells will produce a snownado.”

“But how do we know if a snownado will actually form from one of them?” M.T. argued. “We don’t know what produces snownadoes. We might get burned like last time.”

“Yes we do!” Fuller exclaimed, “Remember? We just need to follow the 5 snownado ingredents that Dr. Summers taught us.”

“Ooh that’s right!” Erin added, with all eyes on her. “I think I remember. Let’s see… Below freezing temperatures throughout the vertical column. A highly unstable atmosphere. A source of atmospheric moisture. A lifting mechanism.”

“Both storms got that!” Brian exclaimed. “Those are the 4 ingredients you need for snow squalls, and there’s plenty of thundersnow.”

“And the last one… hmmmm….” Erin thought.

The other UCK meteorology juniors and Santa Ana leaned intently toward Erin with the hope in their expressions quickly fading.

“The 5th ingredient IS!…. hmmmmm,” Erin Pondered. “I got this, just let me think.”

Santa Ana and the other students backed away from Erin disappointed, and began to chatter among themselves.

“We only have about 30 minutes of daylight left,” said Fuller. “We may just have to pick one. The southern storm looks pretty big.”

“I agree,” Brian added, “There’s a mean hail core on that southern storm.”

“It’s pointless, y’all.” M.T. moped. “We’re never gonna find the snownado if we don’t know the 5th ingredient.”

“Santa,” Samantha Royle digressed, “Why are there antlers on your truck?”

“Oh HO HO,” Santa Ana laughed. “Back in the day I used to tend a herd of deer. I keep the antlers there to guide me. It’s like they’re herding me now, oh HO HO! But these particular antlers come from the favorite of my deer. His name was Ru-”

“Wait, what did you say?” Erin interrupted.

Santa Ana reiterated, “Well back in the day-”

“No, the last part.” Erin interjected. “Your deer.”

“My deer?” asked Santa Ana

“MY DEER!” Erin shouted, “The 5th snownado ingredient is a little holiday shear, my dear!”

Santa Ana and the students erupted in cheers!

“The northern storm is close to the triple point and has lots of holiday shear!” Brian exclaimed! “We need to chase that one!”

“Well what are we waiting for? Let’s go!” cheered Santa Ana.

Samantha Royle hopped back into Santa Ana’s truck, while Erin and the Glass twins ran to Fuller’s Malibu.

“Brian, are you coming?” Erin asked.

“I wanna ride with Santa!” Brian replied, while winking at Samantha Royle as he climbed inside the truck.

The cars sped off toward the north with the Malibu leading the way. In Santa Ana’s truck 3 car lengths behind them, a nervous looking Brian sat with Samantha Royle in the back seat. “Isn’t this amazing?” he asked her.

“It is, Brian!” she declared.

“I can’t think of a more perfect time to ask this, and I’m willing to put aside the fact that you’re from Missouri, so here it goes,” Brian said as he took a deep breath. “Do you want to, you know, go out with me sometime or something?”

“Brian,” Samantha Royle said slowly. “I think you’re a great guy. A greaaaaaaaat guy. Really greaaa-”

“Okay, I know where you’re going with this,” Brian sighed.


 

The students jumped for joy and shouted the holiest of expletives as a funnel descended from the wall cloud of the northern storm. This wall cloud hung even lower, rotated even faster, and wrapped around sporadic curtains of even heavier snow than the wall cloud of the previous storm.

“It’s happening!” Santa and the 5 students shouted as the waved their arms in the air from their rolling hilltop view.

The funnel danced upward and downward for a solid 2 minutes, continually jerking the emotions of the storm chasers, until finally, touchdown.

“WE DID IT!” Fuller screamed hugging his brother.

“See! I told you the snownado was real!” M.T. replied to Fuller, who stared back at M.T. with skepticism.

Brian embraced Erin and exclaimed, “Wow, Erin! You called it! That was an amazing forecast on your part. I’m glad I believed in you.”

“Thanks, Brian!” Erin replied.

“You know, Erin,” Brian said, “I can’t think of a more perfect time to ask this, so here it goes. Do you want to go out with me sometime?”

“You’re kind of a dick, Brian.” Erin replied as she smiled and walked toward the Glass brothers. They hoisted her on their shoulders and began chanting, “Erin! Erin! Erin! Erin!”

“Well, great storm, huh Santa?” Brian said.

“Sure kid,” Santa Ana replied as he paid attention to the camera on his tripod. Santa Ana ushered the students in front of his camera for a picture. After Santa Ana snapped his own photo, the students continued taking countless pictures of the snownado with their camera phones.

“Our Snapchat stories are going to be fire emojis!” Fuller exclaimed.

“It’s too bad Dr. Summers isn’t here to see this,” said Samantha Royle.

“Don’t be so surrrrrrrrrrrre,” came a voice from an electric car that had crept up behind them.

“Dr. Summers!” The students cheered as she climbed out of her car. Also emerging from the passenger and back seats respectively were Dr. Malarkey and The Panhandle Hooker.

“Everybody from the story is here!” M.T. cheered.

“Well I’ll be dogged,” muttered Dr. Malarkey as he handed Dr. Summers a hundred dollar bill.

“You came back to chase with us!” Erin said to The Panhandle Hooker. “I thought you had an appointment.”

“I ditched it!” The Panhandle Hooker replied. “Seeing Samantha Royle so happy for a chance to return chasing with y’all made me realize my priorities weren’t right. Skipping work to storm chase is something all meteorologists should do!”

“We were already driving out this way to collect some air particulate samples,” Dr. Malarkey said excitedly while Dr. Summers yawned. “Then Misty got a call from her cousin here about the snownado, so we made a bet and picked her up. I gotta say this is best hundred bucks I’ve ever spent.”

“The snownado is growing!” Brian shouted while pretending to be unfazed by two rejections within the last half hour.

“It’s becoming a snow wedge!” Samantha Royle cheered. At once everybody erupted into song, singing to the tune of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” at the top of their lungs.

We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
And some holiday shear

Joyriding we bring
To you on your chase
We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
And some holiday shear

Now bring us a multi-vortex
Now bring us a multi-vortex
Now bring us a multi-vortex
And a couplet that veers

Joyriding we bring
To you on your chase
We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
And some holiday shear

We won’t go until we intercept
We won’t go until we intercept
We won’t go until we intercept
Oh shit it’s right here

Joyriding we bring
To you on your chase
We wish you a Merry Wedgemas
And some holiday shear

“I’m very proud of you all,” said Dr. Summers. “You found the 5 ingredients, so don’t worry about the final. You all get A’s.

“Hooray!” the students rejoiced.

“You still have to take my final though,” said Dr. Malarkey as the undergrads groaned. “But there will be a curve.”

“Hooray!” the students rejoiced again.

“There you go, M.T.,” Fuller said to his brother. “That should ease your concern that we should’ve have been studying today.”

“You know,” M.T. replied, “Call me Mike.”

“Mike?!” The other students gasped in unison.

“Only Memaw calls you that,” said Fuller.

“I know,” M.T. said, “I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I’m really happy right now, and Mike just seems like a name with a happier outlook.”

“Mike it is then!” Fuller said handing him the car keys. “Wanna take us out of here? The snownado is fixin’ to cross the highway. We need to back up.”

“Let’s roll!” Mike exclaimed as the 5 students all hopped inside the Malibu.

“See you back in Happy College!” Brian yelled to the professors as they returned to their car.

“And thank you for guiding us!” Erin yelled to The Panhandle Hooker.

The Malibu made a cautious U-turn toward the east with Dr. Summer’s electric car following behind them.

“Santa, are you coming?” Samantha Royle shouted at the truck still facing west toward the snownado.

“This is where we split folks. I’m off to intercept!” Santa Ana exclaimed as he revved his v8. He sped off toward the wintery wedge in front of the setting sun as the others watched. As the snownado lifted his truck the students heard faint shouts of “HO! HO! HO! MERRY WEDGEMAS!”

The End

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