Sunday, July 6, 2008

The weather

Guess I shouldn't have even tried talking at the camera when I was outside. I think I was just saying stuff about how I was walking from Bio-Lab to GWR, or something like that. But yes, before I went outside, I did say 50mph SUSTAINED winds, gusting up to 65mph. It's like standing in front of an industrial fan, or in back huge jet engine. A very cold jet engine. I mean, we've had strong winds in Chicago and stuff, but there's enough trees and buildings and things around that at least for the first ten or fifteen feet above the ground, while there are some strong gusts, it's pretty sporadic and spontaneous. This is anything but, it's just an unrelenting force that is trying desperately to push everything that's not tied down into the ocean. It's completely different then any wind I'd been in before.

Contrary to popular assumption, though, it's not actually THAT cold here. And especially when compared to the other stations, this is downright balmy. Palmer Station is north of the Antarctic circle, and being on the ocean and very close to the water currents coming down from South America helps keep the temperatures relatively mild. Most days have a high of about 25 degrees so far, and it doesn't often drop down that much at night. We've had a few days were it's flirted with single digits, but not many, and a few where it's risen above freezing. There are plenty of states in the USA that get much colder temperatures then we do.

What we DO get, though, is a hell of a lot of snow, and even more wind. It feels like a belt sander on your face when you're outside, especially when the wind is coming in off the glacier across the bay, as you get all the frozen sea spray ground into your skin.

I generally spend at least a few hours a day outside in this sort of weather. It does suck, I will say that, but . . . well it's not as bad as you would think, but I can't say exactly why. Being dressed properly helps a lot. I can't really explain it, though, exactly what it's like. I mean, yes, it's windy as hell, pretty cold, and the snow is blinding and harsh and you really dread going outside in it . . . But then you just go do it anyway, because . . . well, it's got to get done, and if you don't, no one else will. So you either bitch about it, and then do it, or save some time and skip the bitching, and get right to doing it.

(and I KNOW my dad is probably gloating like crazy and remembering all the times when I was growing up that he had to put up with an hour of my complaining about having to do a fifteen-minute chore)

Earlier today, when I was doing station rounds, I was walking from the boathouse to GWR, and having a hard time of it. I was shuffling up the road in a 50mph+ headwind, leaning over into it to an absurd angle, with ice forming on my glasses and snow drifts taller then my waist, getting pelted in the face by snow and frozen sea spray, trying to hang into the clipboard and my bag of tools while holding up an arm to sheild my face a bit from the wind . . . when it hit me.

. . . this is awesome. I'm in Antarctica.

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