Condition 2

21 10 2009

Scroll in Building 155 showing the current condition level.

Scroll in Building 155 showing the current condition level.


The bad weather continues. All day today, there were high winds and blowing snow, and all points outside the station were already at Condition 1. Tonight, they also moved the station from Condition 3 to Condition 2. You can always see the current condition for the station on the condition scrolls, and the weather scroll periodically shows it for the whole area, too:
TV monitor in the lobby of Building 155 showing condition levels around McMurdo tonight.

TV monitor in the lobby of Building 155 showing condition levels around McMurdo tonight.

Here’s how the weather condition level system works: Condition 3 is “normal”—wind chills above -75 °F (-60 °C), winds below 48 knots (90 km/h), and visibility above 1/4 mi (400 m). Condition 2 is either wind chills between -75 °F and -100 °F (-73 °C), sustained winds between 48 knots and 55 knots (100 km/h), or visibility between 1/4 mi and 100 ft (30 m). At this point, foot travel is limited to points inside McMurdo Station. Condition 1 is anything worse, and that is saying a lot. At this point, you have to stay in the building you’re in. In McMurdo Station itself, the emergency response teams will set up guide lines between buildings and you can move along them in pairs to get to the galley and to your dorm. If you’re off station (at the airfields, e.g.), you have to stay put or get specific permission to move.

Luckily we’re not at Condition 1, but Condition 2 is plenty nasty. The wind is quite biting, and there’s snow flying all over. Here’s a picture of Bill walking back from the Science Cargo building earlier this afternoon:

Bill walking back from the Science Cargo building in an Antarctic snowstorm.

Bill walking back from the Science Cargo building in an Antarctic snowstorm.


The forecast is that this should continue overnight, but clear up tomorrow morning. So hopefully, the carps will be able to go out then to start setting up and Bill will follow on Friday to supervise the bothouse assembly. This does push back the departure of ENDURANCE and the rest of the team until Monday, so we’ll have some more time to take in all that McMurdo has to offer.

Oh, and everyone can rest assured that our field crew already at Lake Bonney is fine; the weather conditions between here and there are generally quite different. Maciej reported that it’s slightly cold, but clear and calm.

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3 responses

21 10 2009
Sebastian Bleichert

Hi Kristof,
well the weather in Antarctica looks pretty unpleasant. I can imagine under such conditions one learns to appreciate the “comfort” of McMurdo station. Remembering the times of the Antarctic pioneers, such weather conditions might have been live threatening for the explorers of these days. Certainly todays ECW gear is much better but staying ouside does not look like fun either.
So I hope for better weather that the carps can start bulding the bothouse and your team can move to the lake afterwards. So let’s keep the fingers crossed that the forecasters did a good job 🙂
What would actually happen if the weather deteriorates during your mission at the lake? Did you have to return to McMurdo station if Conditions 2 or 1 would occur again?

22 10 2009
kristofrichmond

The weather Condition Levels only apply to McMurdo station and the immediate vicinity. Once you are out in the field, you are expected to judge conditions for yourself. And if the weather turns bad, there will be no transportation until things clear up again. You have to stay where you are. It is always a requirement that you must have you survival bag (with tent, sleeping bags, some food) and at least two methods of communication with McMurdo (radios, satellite phones, etc.) tested before a helicopter or airplane leaves you in the field, so that you have a means to survive bad weather.

22 10 2009
Maria Richmond

My weather report, that i check every night, also predicted much better weather for tomorrow for McMurdo. So, Muttertier also hopes for better weather for you. And yes, just like Sebastian I wonder what would you do, if Conditions 1 or 2 would, heaven forbid, occur at Bonny Lake.
Otherwise it has been fun to check every night what you did “tomorrow” :).

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