By Benjamin Blue
It's the day after tomorrow, just a short trip forward into our near future. There is now a possible defense for these killer hurricanes. There is a group intent on having that defense fail.
A short excerpt from Storm Killer as the new storm forms.
The local sorghum farmers had tried everything to rid themselves of the destructive shoot flies. Insecticides were useless. Introducing genetically altered sterile flies had no impact. This year's hordes of shoot flies were the worst ever seen in the western African nation of Guinea. All of the farmers agreed, the sorghum harvest was most assuredly lost. Nebo Kantonga owned a sorghum farm on the gentle lower slopes of Mount Nimba, the highest mountain in Guinea. He was standing on the creaking ancient wooden platform that served as a porch in front of his dilapidated tworoom house gazing at the heavily forested terrain below him. His great grandfather's had built the house with just a hammer and a handsaw. The outside had never seen paint of any sort. The inside had seen too much paint over the years and now lead poisoning threaten the health of his children. But that was the least of his concerns at the moment. His home was situated so that from this vantage point he could actually see the border of Liberia twenty kilometers away today.
Today was extremely hot. But it was still early in the day and the air had not filled with the haze normally hanging over the dense forest in summer. While Nebo gazed at the awe-inspiring view with a vacant stare, his mind was focused on the fly problem. His crop was doomed. No crop, no money. He might be forced to sell the family farm. It had been in his family for ten generations and he knew no other occupation. He saw his wife and eight children in his mind's eye as he thought sorrowfully. How will I care for my family? He picked up his shovel and walked down to the field of sorghum that lay on the leeward side of the slope. This area received only ten percent of the rain of the windward side. Sorghum grass thrived in this more arid environment. As he approached the field, he saw the plants were covered in the small tan colored shoot flies. He became almost hysterical when he saw this. He ran into the field wielding the shovel as a futile weapon. He swung and swung at the flies until his arms felt on fire and his breath came in ragged gasps. The flies would leap away from his shovel's path only to instantly return to their feeding.
On his last futile swing, his shovel made contact with a single shoot fly that caromed from the shovel to ground. The fly, even though gravely injured, raised itself in the air and started flying higher and higher. This was made more difficult by the grains of sand that had attached itself to the fly's sticky thorax where the shovel had cracked the exterior shell. As the fly used its last reserves of strength, it began to fall back toward the ground almost eight hundred meters below it. It was suddenly caught in a tremendous updraft caused by the early morning sun's heating of the air. Tumbling over and over, it was lifted higher and higher. Until, finally, it drew abreast of the summit of Mount Nimba where the upward current final ended. A single grain of sand fell from the fly's body as it struggled to right itself and fly again. What became of the fly will never be known. But the grain of sand was caught in another, even more powerful wind funneled upward by the very shape of the mountain. This updraft carried the grain all the way to the troposphere. Along the way, a small negative electrical charge built up on the grain of sand. The attracted other grains of sand and debris being blown higher and higher into the atmosphere. As the grains attracted and stuck together, liquid water formed around the still warm grains from the frigid water-ice vapor held aloft by the winds. These grains, now inside a large water drop, began to fall back to earth. Another updraft caught the drop and blew it apart into two drops. These two drops, still warmer than the surrounding air grew in size as more water liquefied.
This process was repeated hundreds of times with each drop splitting into two or more each time the updraft caught them. Within a very short time, the single drop had become billions. These billions formed an ever-growing thunderhead. The sky blackened, as the billions became trillions. Soon the weight of the drops overcame the updrafts and fell to the ground. A torrential tropical rain shower was born. Normally the clouds would be pulled apart by various factors like wind shear. But conditions today were extremely favorable for cloud formation and as more and more rain fell, the temperature variances became greater and greater between the upper atmosphere and ground. This led to even stronger updrafts. Eventually, the storm turned into a tropical wave that thundered off the Atlantic coast of Guinea heading due west. The ocean waters had been heating all summer. It had been an exceptionally hot summer and now the waters contained the maximum amount of stored energy and heat. The upper winds were calm. Conditions were favorable for the metamorphous of the tropical wave into a tropical depression. Conditions continued to be advantageous for the now serious but still fledging storm. It fed on the stored energy of the water. Growing in size and intensity until, finally, it achieved tropical storm status and was named Edna. Another three days found Edna achieving hurricane status as she continued her way west by north west. Nebo Kantonga, the simple farmer, would have never been able to grasp the fact that his single act of frustration against the pesky shoot fly had caused Hurricane Edna to be born.
Focus on tropical storms in today's press equals monetary opportunities.
After the destruction wrought by the hurricanes in these early days of the twenty-first century, both the public and press have been and will continue to be enthralled by the strength of these weather systems as well as the sheer terror and devastation they cause. Films, such as The Day After Tomorrow, depict Mother Nature at her most violent. It currently holds the record for biggest opening weekend gross for any movie not opening at #1 with $68.7 million. Over the next few years, the publishing world and Hollywood might wish to consider more focus on playing to the public's raw emotions related to these killer storms. There is money to be made out there! More stories like Storm Killer should prove welcome fodder to both the publishing and entertainment worlds.