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1 December, 2003

I am sitting in our kitchen hut witnessing what has been, for me, the single-most impressive bit of snow redistribution that I have ever seen. At times we have sat transfixed, staring intently as the wind speed flashes across the screen of our weather station. Mostg people stare at their TV screens-at Big Razorback we just watch the weather station. While the single greatest gust so far has been almost 80 mph, we have had consistent winds over 35mph for the past 12 hours. The world outside has disappeared behind a wall of white. In short, it is awesome!

When we returned to camp at Big Razorback this morning the snowdrifts were deep around the huts. Bob had stayed in camp while we were in town, and spent yesterday watching the snow drifts grow and fill the paths he had cleared. Our first act upon returning to camp was to get two out of three snowmobiles firmly stuck in the 3-foot deep drifts near our usual parking area. A little shovel work was what it took to free the machines and drive them to a snow-free parking area away from the huts. Once the machines were unloaded and securely covered, it was time to get indoors out of the wind.

That's when the fun began. The gusts were coming at us straight from the pole, rocketing across the ice from the south. Within an hour, our three-foot drifts were gone, with the area around the hut scoured to bare ice once again. What I want to know is this-where is all that snow going? Does it just fly through the air until it melts and then evaporates from the friction of grinding crystals, or do the crystals stay intact as it disappears somewhere to the north over the open ocean? I have no clue. All I know is that the air is absolutely thick with blowing snow.

By late evening, the winds showed no signs of abating. Winds continued to roar across the ice at a steady 40+ mph. Visibility was reduced to less than 20 feet. Even a trip to the outhouse was an adventure, since you had to fight the wind to walk across wind-polished ice to get there. Opening its door was even more of an adventure, since the wind was doing its best to absolutely tear it from your hand and send it flying northward.

When faced with a transfer of energy of such remarkable dimensions, there's only one thing to do-get a book, lie down, and turn on the walkman to drown out the incessant rattling and shaking noises coming from the hut.

Daily Haiku:


How fast can you go around?

Boy, howdy, what wind!

We're taking advantage of a break in the weather to leave McMurdo and head back to camp before the next storm wave blows in.

Our camp was surrounded by deep drifts during the first part of the storm.

After we dug out the snowmachines that got stuck it was time to enjoy the soft new snow.

A seal pup had ended up near the huts during the first wave of the storm. We carried it back out to the ice crack, hoping it would find its mother. Here we are returning to the hut in the storm.

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