Snow, snow, snow.
It’s now been a week since our first ‘real’ blizzard of the year. I say ‘real’ because it was actually our second, though the first one dropped one knot below the minimum wind speed for one minute. So according to the Bureau of Meteorology it wasn’t, but I’m going to be lenient because it sounds better to have had two blizzards 🙂
This is the ‘road’ that goes from the workshop, past the Living Quarters (LQ) and heads right to the Operations building (yellow building in the right of frame) or left up to the Main Power House (MPH). There is a bridge over the main distribution trays for site services (power, water, etc) just behind the camera that causes the snow to settle quite thickly where I’m standing. This whole area was brown until the season’s first snow only a month ago.
Here’s the pile of snow that’s been cleared from next to the Green Store (the name for our warehouse, because it’s green). It builds up more heavily here than in most other places on the station, so it’s cleared after every decent snow fall.
Here are the beasts of burden that do the clearing for us. Nearly two days of snowfall preceded the most recent blizzard, so there was a lot of loose snow around to be picked up and later deposited by the wind. It took the guys here all day to clear a safe path between all of the buildings using this machinery.
When wind, snow and an obstruction meet, funny things happen. The easiest to describe is how snow builds up on the leeward (downwind) side of an object. As the wind passes over the object, a small area behind it is turbulent but much calmer than what is around it. This allows the snow to settle to the ground and leave the wind stream. After a while you start to see these ‘blizz tails’ form from just about anything.
They tend to settle quite quickly so they’re less impressive this long after the blizzard, but I’ll show you some truly spectacular ones once the sea ice is open for us to travel on. I’ll also take some photos of gigantic wind scours up near the glacier. Speaking of wind scours…
…this is what they can look like. Different shapes of wind scour appear in different places, but they’re caused by fast-moving air that prevents any snow from settling out at all. In these photos (thanks for modelling, PJ) they are left behind on the windward (upwind) side of the obstructions. The wind hits the side of the building and is forced down the wall, along the ground and back up again in a big circle. It’s violent air that scours the area of snow, even snow that had been settled for days.
Snow that’s settled and is packed firmly is also somewhat elastic. It’s been no warmer than -10 since the blizz, so this snow is actually curling and bending as it comes away from the container. Fact really is stranger than fiction.
These are just a couple of extra shots to show you what I see each day. Most of the week has been gloomy like this, which means the horizon is practically invisible most of the time. Our entire world is white with patches of brown and the occasional colourful building. But hopefully I can add some colour with another ‘bonus photo’:
This week we also had our first Aurora Australis that was easily visible to the naked eye. It was quite dim so it looked grey to the naked eye, but a long exposure brings out the colour that our eyes are missing. I learned a lot from the photos I took (most of which didn’t turn out) and will be using that knowledge to take better aurora photos next time!