Sunday, March 23, 2008

Condition 2 again

The makings of a Condition 2.

Last night was second of two wonderful weather nights. The weather has been some of the worst that I have experienced in Antarctic yet and I was giddy about it. Of course, that might have had to do with being near or inside buildings. If I was in the field, I probably wouldn't have been happy. I know that no helicopters left yesterday because of the terrible weather. It looks like it is clearing up today and I already heard a couple helicopters roaring to life.

Snowstorm! (picture compliments of Rachel J.)

I guess I've been outside in a couple condition two storms before, but this one seemed the worst. Maybe it was. Maybe I just lingered long enough to appreciate its ferocity. So many times we talk about the dangers of Antarctic weather coming up quickly, but this is one of the first times I felt it. My normal recreational habits keep me safe from the general cold, but I'm not sure they'd keep me safe in this. It is a good eye opener of where I live.

A lull in the storm. Taken from the 155 facing 209.

Brian, Katie, and I play in the storm. Taken from the exact same spot as the picture above (video compliments of Rachel J.).

I don't feel like these pictures or videos usually do our storms justice. I hope that adding a clear day versus a storm picture will help show the differences. If nothing else, just listen to the wind whip by in the video when we aren't talking. I'm not sure I could have made it home if I didn't know exactly where we were going or had reinforcing landmarks on the way. We just disappear into the blowing snow so quickly. I imagine being in the field during this particular storm wouldn't have been quite as hard as the exercise we did at Happy Camper where we put a white bucket over our head, but it certainly would have been challenging.

Brian cleans up after his snow battle. Don't wear moccasins.

This photo was taken from 209, my new dorm, facing 155, my old dorm.

When I got back to my room, I thought I'd be done with the storm. However, that wasn't quite the case. I'm in a corner room so I think I get a little more wind than others. It woke me up a few times during the night and was probably to be expected. What I didn't expect was a half inch of snow to be on my window sill wall when I got back. I knew my single pane window wasn't great, but I had no idea that the wind could force so much snow through.

My window sill.

The next morning things seemed just as bad. I checked the weather and it was confirmed - still nasty out. I took a quick look at the weather channel and found the following two slides.

Our weather man's clever report.

Evidence of our working conditions?

To the more jaded on station, the second slide is more important. Many people have suggested that management keeps the base at Condition 2 or 3 in the morning so that we have to go to work. They'll only switch the base to Condition 1 after we should be at work or when the conditions are truly terrible. I thought the conditions were truly terrible, but apparently they can be worse because we were only in Condition 3 or 2 all morning or management did really want us to get to work.

Either way, things momentarily started to clear up at noon. This is a picture of Hut Point taken from near the power plant. I thought things were going to completely clear up by night because of those blue skies, but apparently that was only the eye of the storm. With nightfall came the horrendous winds again. Today though, things are actually clearing up.

Hut Point during a lull in the storm.


  1. I have been following your blog for about 1 year along with Heidi at the North Pole. My question is does it get dark where you are like it does at the North Pole.

  2. Anon,
    We are currently down to less than 12 hours of daylight. This is my first winter down so I don't know exactly when, but it will go completely dark. I suspect we are looking at that by May 15th.

    At South Pole, the sun set a few days ago. It won't rise again until late September. It shouldn't be dark there yet, but the sunset colors should fade in a month leaving them completely in the dark. They should be dark before the end of April, I guess. Heidi would definitely know better.

  3. Safety is no accident so quit acting like an idiot out there in the storm and get back inside.