November 14, 2009 Crazy McMurdo Weather
Yesterday the boys (Brent, Mark, Scott, and Tim) made it out of McMurdo just in time. They were originally scheduled for an afternoon C-17 flight back to Christchurch, but the weather was forecasted to turn bad and they got switched to a morning flight on a C-130. I was sad that they were going to miss my webinar, but it was a good thing that they left when they did. About an hour after they left, the wind started and then the snow came.
Trying to Walk in the Wind Video
In McMurdo there is a system that we use to rate the weather to tell us if it is safe to travel around McMurdo and the surrounding area. Condition One is when the visibility is less than 100 ft., or wind speed is greater than 55 knots (more than 60 mph), or wind chill is greater than -100°F (-38°C). During Condition One all outdoor travel is prohibited. You basically have to stay in your dorm and if you have to leave to get to the cafeteria you have to go in a group and use safety lines. Condition Two is when visibility is less than ¼ mile, or wind speed is between 48 and 55 knots (about 55 mph to 65 mph), or wind chill factor is between -75°F and -100°F (or between -24°C and -38°C). During Condition Two, travel outside of the McMurdo area is prohibited. Condition Three is when the weather is anything better than a Condition Two, up to a beautiful sunny day. There is a big difference between 50mph winds and a calm sunny day, so you still have to be smart about what you are doing and where you are going even during Condition Three.
In the last 24-48hrs the conditions here have ranged from condition 1 - condition 3. I have never experienced some of the wind that I have experienced in the last couple of days. It pushes you right over. Walking from building to building, I pretty much laugh the entire time. The good thing is that it is a pretty warm wind. The temperatures have been in the 20's so it really isn't that bad going outside. The wind will get you though. The peak wind gusts were around 6am this morning. In town the highest wind gust recorded today was 62 mph, but up on top of one of the hills outside of town they recorded a maximum wind speed of 91mph at 6:01am. Crazy!
It has also been snowing a lot and with all the wind it has been forming big drifts. Amanda is from Louisiana and doesn't get to play in the snow very often, so we suited up and went outside to play in the snow. We made snow angels, sledded down hills, and jumped in snow drifts. It felt like a snow day in Michigan and it made me happy, but also miss home a little too.