February 16, 2012 Weather - Part 1
This journal is brought to you by:
- Marsha Stinson and her 4th graders at Jackson Elementary
- St. Ann 6th grade Sparks students
- Bailey Station 4th grade APEX students
Now I must admit - we've been having spectacular weather since I've been in Antarctica! Don't get me wrong - it's cold - very cold some days, but I was expecting much worse. And to tell you the truth, so was the rest of the team. Either way - we're not complaining! But let's take a closer look at the weather conditions!
There are three classes of weather - and travel restrictions - which apply to all personnel working in and around McMurdo Station. They are:
Condition 3 is the best Antarctic weather. It is defined as having winds:
- Less than 48 knots (55 mph)
- Wind chills warmer than -75˚F
- Visibility is greater than 1/4 mile
This is considered 'normal' weather in McMurdo. Today' - as well as most other days - have been Condition 3. There are usually no restrictions on outside activities - for either work or 'play' (that is if you feel like going for a hike). However, since our team is working on sea ice, we check out with Mac Ops (McMurdo Operations) every time we leave.
Here's a picture of the team on a beautiful Condition 3 day!
Condition 2 weather - now things are starting to get interesting. This weather is defined by one or more of the following conditions:
- Wind speeds of 48-55 knots (55-63 mph)
- Wind chills between -75˚F and -100˚F
- Visibility less than 1/4 mile
Condition 2 weather requires that all personnel must check in and out with the Firehouse or Mac Ops prior to leaving town and upon return.
A few days ago our team experienced Condition 2 weather. Luckily, the wind speed and wind chill were not a factor - but visibility was. We had taken a helicopter to the Nordenskjold Ice Tongue - about 125 miles away from McMurdo station. Just as we were finishing our 19th seal, the helicopter pilot radioed us to say 'weather was coming'. So we packed up as quickly as we could and started the nearly 3/4 of a mile trek back to the helicopter. The helicopter was visible in the distance but visibility was worsening. By the time we reached the helicopter the Nordenskjold Ice Tongue was no longer visible. So, for the next four hours the team weathered the storm.
Here are a few pictures of our adventure:
Condition 1 - the worst weather! It is defined by one or more of the following conditions:
- Wind speeds greater than 55 knots (63 mph)
- Wind chills colder than -100˚F
- Visibility less than 100 feet
Only "mission critical" travel is permitted. Luckily, I've not experienced Condition 1 weather. But take a look at this video - these two are not going anywhere: