1 December, 2003
The sideways snow continued through the night and today we woke up to find our base covered in snow. The snowdrifts transformed our little “mining town” into a winter wonderland and I quickly grabbed my camera to document this unusual experience.
The blowing snow continued throughout the day and by late afternoon I had my first taste of fierce Antarctic weather. As we were about to return to the lab from lunch we noticed that the winds had picked up and visibility was starting to decrease. While I was only going a short the distance, I found it extremely difficult to make my way back. The wind was blowing so fiercely that it nearly took my breath away and the wet snow hitting my face made it even more difficult to travel. While I reached the lab safely, I must admit my nerves were a little wired. The weather in McMurdo had deteriorated to Condition 2.
In order to inform the McMurdo residents of the severity of the weather outside, the station classifies the current weather into one of three categories. We are kept informed of the current conditions through the McMurdo intranet, a television weather channel, and a scrolling sign in the main building. A definition of the three conditions is as follows: Condition 3: winds less than 48 knots, wind chill warmer than –75F, and/or visibility greater than 1/4 mile. This is considered the normal weather condition in McMurdo.
Condition 2: wind speeds of 48-55 knots, wind chills of –75F to –100F, OR visibility of less than 1/4 of a mile.
Condition 1: wind speeds greater than 55 knots, wind chills colder than –100F or visibility of less than 100ft. During a condition 1, only mission critical travel is permitted.
While today’s weather was a bit intense for this Florida girl, it was “nothing” compared to what this continent can dish out. I can’t even image what it would be like during condition one! Today was a good reminder as to how powerful Mother Nature can be. I am in awe of this amazing place and respect it even more.
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