By: Aditya and Avery
It was a gloomy day in the city of Palm Bay, Florida. Carter could identify the cumulonimbus clouds, which he knew meant bad weather. The bright sun was missing overhead, and Carter could smell the salty waters of the sea. Being an orphan, he never knew his parents and therefore did not have a rather enjoyable life. His only escape was the beach. He looked longingly at the hot air balloon ride and wished he could go just once. But alas, he did not have the money for the ride.
"Hello there, young man," said Mr. Adams. "Are you here for a ride?" "Well-" "Get your parents and we'll be off immediately," Mr. Adams continued, not waiting for Carter's answer. "My parents are dead, and I don't have any money," Carter said firmly. Looking at the determination in the boy's eyes, Mr. Adams realized that Carter wasn't joking. "I'm so sorry, my dear boy!" "It's okay..." Carter said, dragging his toe in the sand.
Mr. Adams observed the boy for a few minutes before deciding what he was going to do the resolve this awkward situation between them. "Want to go for a free Hot-Air-Balloon ride?" asked the old man. The look on the boy's face was absolutely priceless. He stood there staring at the old man in shock. "Really?" he whispered softly. "Certainly, Carter. Would I kid about something like that?!" "I would love to go!" he exclaimed.
The balloon steadily rose into the air as the fire started burning. Carter was having the time of his life, yelling and pointing out buildings that he knew. After a while the hot air balloon has risen to its very extent and Carter could see the whole town laid in front of him like a map. Meanwhile, it had started to rain heavily. "It's really windy up here," yelled Carter. "That's a good reason to head down right now," sighed the old man. "No way! This is awesome!" Carter shouted above the howling winds.
As the wind rushed past their faces, the Hot-Air-Balloon started to rapidly head towards the water. "We need to get down right now or we'll be heading into the Pacific Ocean!" yelled Mr. Adams. All of Mr. Adams efforts would be in vain, because a tornado was brewing. "A tornado is forming!" yelped a scared Mr. Carter.
"What exactly is a tornado?" asked Carter. Carter had heard of tornadoes, but had never had really paused to consider what they actually were. "A tornado is a funnel-like storm that's about one mile wide at the most. It lasts a few minutes, but it can destroy towns," explained Mr. Adams wearily. Carter felt sad because his best moment had suddenly turned into the worst day of his life.
"If we don't make it to land before we reach the ocean, the Gulf Stream current will carry us all the way to Portugal!" cried Mr. Adams At that moment, their Hot-Air-Balloon was thrown helplessly off balance and soared over the ocean. "We're in big trouble!" exclaimed Carter meekly.
Carter braced himself for what he expected to be the worst roller coaster ride in all of history. As the winds began to swirl around him, Carter cried out for help, but obviously no one could hear them. The hot air balloon was tossed back and forth like a ragdoll, from one gust of wind to the next. Around and around they went, in a never-ending cycle. Carter thought he was going to be sick. Just when he believed he couldn't take it anymore, everything was still. Carter watched in disbelief as the tornado grew smaller and smaller behind them until it disappeared.
"Why did the tornado form?" asked Carter. "It was due to the low pressure and the stormy weather," informed Mr. Adams. "What is low pressure?" questioned Carter. "Low pressure is when it is cloudy, stormy, and wet," explained Mr. Adams, "conversely, high pressure is when there are clear skies and calm weather." This boy never seems to stop asking questions! thought Mr. Adams.
As Carter was thinking about terms related to tornadoes and high pressure, he came across atmosphere, which he knew was the layer of gasses that surrounded the Earth. However, since it had very little to do with high pressure or tornadoes, he started racking his brain for another term that had something to do with tornadoes. "How is a hurricane different from a tornado?" he asked Mr. Adams. "Hurricanes are huge air masses that are over 1000 miles across, while tornadoes are only 1 mile wide," said Mr. Adams briefly.
After about an hour, the Hot-Air-Balloon started to get slower but was still headed on the Gulf Stream current. Carter was thinking about the rain that had indicated the tornado approaching. He was trying to remember all of the forms of precipitation that he knew but he knew only 2. "Can you tell me all of the types of precipitation?" asked Carter. "The common types of precipitation are rain, snow, hail, sleet, and freezing rain," replied Mr. Adams.
After a while, when their hopes that they would reach dry land again had been lost, Carter asked Mr. Adams for food and was given a loaf of bread. Mr. Adams said that they only had 3 days worth of rations and that they had to eat wisely. Suddenly, the Hot-Air-Balloon began to change direction. "Yipee! We've caught the trade winds, and we might go back to Florida" exclaimed Mr. Adams. Carter felt as if a knot in his stomach had suddenly been loosened and he rejoiced with the old man.
"What if we call the police and try to get them to rescue us?" asked Carter. "We can't do that because my cellphone does not have service and I have no idea where we are," said Mr. Adams. "What instruments do scientists use to take images?" asked Carter. "They use satellites and cameras," said Mr. Adams briefly. The sky had finally cleared and the fluffy white cumulus clouds were out, joined by some wispy stratus.
"Mr. Adams?" "Yes, Carter?" "I was wondering, what meteorological instruments do scientists use?" Carter asked curiously. "Well, they use a barometer to measure air pressure. They use a thermometer to measure air temperature, along with a sling psychrometer to measure relative humidity. Humidity is the state or quality of being humid, or water vapor. A rain gauge measures the amount of rain that has fallen over a specific time period, while a wind vane determines the direction from which the wind is blowing. Some people call them weather vanes.
An anemometer measures wind speed, or how fast the wind is traveling. A hygrometer measures the amount of water vapor in the air, or the humidity. A weather balloon measures weather conditions higher up in the atmosphere, while a compass is a navigational instrument for finding directions. Weather satellites are used to photograph and track largescale air movements. Last but not least, weather maps indicate atmospheric conditions above a large portion of the Earth's surface."
"Hold up a minute!" Carter exclaimed. "What is a weather map?!" "Umm...how should I explain it. You know what, I'll just draw you one," Mr. Adams said. "Wow," breathed Carter. "Fascinating things, weather maps," Mr. Adams agreed. Just then, the weather balloon started to spiral downwards.
"What's happening?!" Carter cried. "Hold on one second, I got this covered. I knew this would happen eventually, so I created a device." Mr. Adams scavenged around in his bag until he found what he was looking for. "Ahh, here it is!" He set it up and pressed a button. "What is that?" Carter asked. "This, my dear boy, is my own invention. I made it in case of emergency, and I do believe this qualifies. You see, the sun is the star the earth orbits around. It provides light and energy to the world. My invention captures some of the sun's energy to power this balloon with. As long as I have it, we will be safe."
The second those words left his mouth, a strong gust of wind attacked, hitting the device so hard that it became untied and fell into the water below them. Mr. Adams and Carter looked at each other. "Uh oh," Carter said. The balloon dropped, gaining momentum as it did. Carter covered his eyes and screamed. Mr. Adams was gripping the side of the basket so hard his knuckles that were white. They landed in the water with a huge splash, and water sprayed into the basket of the balloon. They were sinking. Already the water was up to Carter's calves, and he was starting to panic.
"Stay calm. We have to get the water out," Mr. Adams said carefully. "How?!" Carter almost shouted. In reply Mr. Adams reached into his bag yet again and pulled out a paper bag. In the paper bag were two water guns. "Like this," he said. With that he filled up his water gun and sprayed it into the ocean. "That's absurd!" Carter said. "We'll be shark food by the time we would get all this water out!" "Fine," Mr. Adams sighed. He reached his hand into the dark water covering the bottom of the basket, and pulled a plug.
"There was a plug?! Why didn't you say so?!" Carter said angrily as the water drained out. "What's life without a little adventure?" Mr. Adams shrugged. "I'm sorry, Mr. Adams, I didn't mean to sound rude. It's just that, well, I like balloons and all, but I am terrified of water," Carter explained. "Oh it's fine, Carter. Don't worry about it. I know something that might take your mind off your fear of water. You ask a question, and I answer it. You do seem to like asking questions," Mr. Adams suggested with a twinkle in his eye.
"Okay then. Where did that wind come from? It seemed to come from nowhere!" Carter said enthusiastically. "Carter, that was one of the wind currents. That one was called the Westerlies. It was one of the global winds. The globe is encircled by six major wind belts, three in each hemisphere. Winds are named after the direction from which they blow.
"Oh, I see. And what is an isotherm? I overheard someone in the computer lab talking about it yesterday, but I wasn't sure what it meant." "An isotherm, Carter, is a line on a map connecting points that have the same temperature at a certain time. It is often associated with the word 'isobar', which is a line on a weather map connecting points of equal atmospheric pressure," Mr. Adams explained, "It's all very confusing, since there are so many different terms about weather, but you seem to be catching on extremely quickly!"
"Oh, and what is a dew point? My science teacher was talking about it, but I accidentally zoned out while thinking about convection." "A dew point is the temperature below which water droplets can begin to condense and form. As you know, convection is the movement caused inside a liquid by the habit of hotter, less dense, matter to rise, and colder, therefore less dense, material to sink. It goes around in a circular motion." "Now Carter, I am going to ask you a difficult question, and I want you to try to answer it as best as you can. Okay?" "Absolutely!" Carter exclaimed, always eager for a challenge.
"What are the three types of fronts, and how do they form?" "Oh, this is an easy one! First, there is a cold front, which has dense, cold air advancing. It pushes the warm air up, since warm air is less dense. Second, there is a warm front. In a warm front, a warm air mass is replacing a cold air mass. Third, there is an occluded front, where a warm air mass is caught between two cold air masses. For the bonus: there is one more kind of front, called a stationary front. This is where cold air and warm air masses meet, but neither has enough strength to move the other. I did it!" "Yes, Carter, you did," Mr. Adams chuckled.
Carter hadn't noticed that, as they talked, they had been drifting slowly. When he finally noticed, he grew very curious. "Mr. Adams, why are we moving?" "That, dear boy, is because of ocean currents. Ocean currents are set in motion by wind. The rotation of the earth moves them clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Deep ocean currents are formed by both the momentum of the upper ocean currents and temperature differences. Temperature differences cause cold water to sink and warm water to rise, creating convection and ocean currents."
"Ohhhh. That explains a lot," Carter said. The sun began to set, and after a few minutes, it was gone entirely. "You should rest, Carter," Mr. Adams urged gently. Carter realized just how tired he was, and curled into a ball. Within seconds, he was snoring softly. "Good night, Carter," Mr. Adams whispered before laying down too.
A few months later.............
"Land! Land!" he screamed, shaking Mr. Adams awake. "Well done, my dear boy!" Mr. Adams cried out as he, too, saw it.
"Well done, my dear boy!" Mr. Adams cried out as he, too, saw it. Quickly, both Mr. Adams and Carter began to paddle as fast as they could. As they neared the land, they stood up and started waving their arms to get the attention of some of the people walking along the beach. One little child tugged on her mother's shirt and pointed. They watched as the mother shaded her eyes against the glare of the sun and saw them. With surprise in her eyes, she cried out for someone to help them. A few feet from shore, Carter tumbled out of the basket and waded through the water and onto the sandy beach. Mr. Adams followed behind. Just as Carter began to collapse, he was caught by two lifeguards and carried into an ambulance. Mr. Adams managed to stagger into the ambulance with a little assistance.
"We've done it!" Carter exclaimed to the old man. "Yes we did, my dear boy," he replied. One Week Later... Carter laughed as the reporters crowded around him and Mr. Adams, taking pictures and asking questions. They both had made a full recovery, thanks to the local hospital. Later that afternoon, they would be taking a flight back to Florida, but for now, everyone wanted to know the story about the orphaned boy and the old man who traveled the Pacific Ocean by accident, and lived to tell the tale. Carter knew one thing for certain, he had found himself a home. No matter what happened then, he knew he could always count on Mr. Adams to be there for him.