Friday, October 13, 2006

You call this springtime?

Who do you think is the most important person on station? The station manager, the doctor, the head cook? Well, it's debatable but at this time of the year, it's unanimous - the weatherman! In order for the LC-130 plane to land here as scheduled on Oct 21, our temps have to be warmer than -50 degrees C (-58F). Right now, just 8 days away from station opening day, it’s about -62C or -80F and the weatherman’s unofficial predictions ain’t looking good.

Here’s Jeff, one of our meteorologists in action. He explained that currently the upper air temps are much colder than what it typically is at this time of year. Last year, the upper air measurements at 10 millibar were reading +10F and now at the same time of year, they're at -70F. And there are no storms looming on the horizon that are needed to churn up the warmer air that sits above the cold layer on the surface of the ice. Plus we won't be getting much help from our re-acquainted old friend the sun since the endless ice plateau just reflects back most of the solar heat.

According to Jeff, this all likely translates into our surface temps warming up to the magical -50C maybe about a week and a half later than our station opening date. Hmmmm. Not good news for many who were ready to get out of here back in June. I'm resigned to the fate of the polar gods and know by now that you can hope for that plane to land on Oct 21, but it's all a matter of luck when it actually does land and when you get out of here. Weather delays are the norm, not the exception. Of course, we could conspire to exaggerate the actual temperatures and next Saturday report that our temps are about -50C. Jeff did say, "I can be bribed!" I think he was joking but I might pick up some extra Corona for him, just in case.

And on a related note, here are some photos of a balloon launch that I "helped" with in mid-August. The other meteorologist, Don has a hold of a big plastic balloon filled with helium. He's attached a radiosonde that will transmit back data on temperature, pressure, windspeed and humidity as it rises into the upper atmosphere. So after he does all the real work, I just hold onto the balloon and let go when he says so and try not to get airborne with it if it’s particularly windy out.

Yes, those met guys will be the most popular guys on station in about a week, not just because they’re brilliant and handsome (you’re reading this, right Jeff?) but because they’re going to be hounded with the question, is it warm enough for the plane to land?


At 9:59 AM, Blogger Jeff De Rosa said...

I like that, "The OTHER" Meteorologist, Don. Ha ha!

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Heidi said...

I should have added that Don is the head meteorologist and Jeff is the lackey!

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Jeff De Rosa said...

I like to let Don think he's in charge as well. It's good for the old man to feel that way!


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