In the Midwest, temperatures plunged to 40 below zero as a result of dense, frigid air from this freak effect. The vortex locked travelers in a seemingly endless cycle of delays, cancellations, and re-schedulings, and also locked the first officer of the starship Enterprise into a deadly game of cat and mouse, not only with a wily Ferengi stowaway, but with time itself.
Passengers were stuck in New York and Boston after JetBlue Airways announced they were canceling all flights to in from those cities Monday night, while Southwest passengers in Chicago were similarly grounded, with warnings of more travel disruptions likely to follow. Similarly, Picard warned his second-in-command over viewscreen that if he can’t come up with some means of breaking the temporal loop that had trapped Riker’s shuttlecraft– and come up with it fast— gravitational forces within the vortex will tear the ship apart.
“We are working hard to reset the operation and get people where they’re going,” JetBlue announced on its website, in a travel advisory. “But it will take days, not hours.”
“I can sense Commander Riker’s emotions, Captain,” Counselor Troi reported, after communications with the executive officer’s trapped shuttlecraft were lost. “He’s not scared; he’s determined, and he knows what to do. We have to trust him, Captain.”
With distortions in the oscillation of the polar vortex loop causing a deep southern jetstream to funnel cold air into North America, trapping passengers at airline counters and Commander Riker aboard a disabled shuttle, the north and central U.S. were bracing for their coldest temperatures in over twenty years’ time.
Even states in the south were expecting freezing weather, with Georgia and Alabama expecting single-digit highs and temperatures as far south as Florida to come down to the 30s. With New York, Boston, and Chicago already stopping flights, warnings of possible airport delays were being issued for Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta, and Charlotte, as well as Starbases 11 through 32, K-7, and DS9.
In response to the vortex’s effects, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the western part of New York State, while Lt. Commander Worf prepared to fire a full spread of photon torpedoes, but was countermanded by Captain Picard.
“Belay that order,” said Picard. “This is not the time for rash actions, Mr. Worf.”
The National Weather Service issued a warning that the cold weather system was continuing to move east, predicting average temperatures more than 20 degrees below normal across the eastern U.S. In an entry in his First Officer’s Log, Stardate 2014.07, Riker took a moment to reflect wryly that he couldn’t afford to waste time, or else time might waste him.
Despite the crippling effects of the polar vortex, there were signs of hope Tuesday morning. Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant said he believed that flights would resume a regular schedule by mid-week. At press-time, Virgin America was indicating they had resumed planned operations, and it was believed that Riker could still escape the vortex, but only if he could somehow recrystallize the dilithium in the warp core before antimatter containment was lost.
Scientists noted that these extraordinary low temperatures were not necessarily proof of climate change, though they were also quick to point out that the record-setting cold in no way disproves the global warming hypothesis, which actually predicts an increase in extreme weather of all kinds.
In other climate news, unrelated to the polar vortex that left passengers and Commander Riker trapped in airline terminals and/or a time loop, scientists say they have gained new insight into the phenomenon of supervolcanoes, apocalyptic eruptions which may cause mass extinctions and possibly give mutant powers to outcast teens.
By: Jeremy Forbing