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3 December, 2003

This morning the huts were oddly silent after yesterday's roaring and rocking. The light breezes I could hear were a pleasant surprise from the continuous freight train roar of the past two days. I sat up in my bunk and poked my head out the door to see if the storm had finally passed and was greeted by a scene that was 99% white. It was snowing heavily, with deep drifts forming around the huts once again. Another perfect day for reading and knitting-but not for traveling.

The snow continued for much of the day, with the storm moving out by early evening. As the snows slowed and the temperatures rose above freezing, we discovered an interesting thing about our huts-the roofs leaked. We also had a chance to inspect our non-working phone system and found out that it, too, had been a victim of the snow. The circuit box is outside and was not in a weather tight box. Apparently, water and electronics don't coexist well. Although we are living in one of the world's driest and coldest places (and definitely windiest!), it's the exceptions that make the rule. Today was an exceptional day.

How else do these warm temperatures affect us? Well, our frozen food that has been stored in the walk-out freezer (coolers outside the hut) is starting to thaw. Luckily we have been making great strides in the eating department and have almost finished most of what we brought out here. We've also noticed that our sleeping huts are actually too hot. Where I was waking up to a frozen water bottle in the morning just a few weeks ago, we are now forced to keep the door partway open and turn the heater off if we want to sleep well.

The seals appear to have made it through the storm just fine. Many probably spent their storm time in the water oblivious to the wind and snow. Those with pups that are still nursing appeared to just hunker down and lie there as the snow drifted over them. When the snow stopped and I took a walk amongst 'our' seals, most were just snoring contentedly away as their pups nursed.

It's hard to estimate how much new snow fell during the storm, since anything that fell before the big wind event was redistributed to another galaxy. The drifts around camp are knee-deep in places, and the ice and sastrugi are covered with a level sheet of white. It's amazing how the landscape has changed in just 5 days.

Daily Haiku:

Snow covers the ice

Drifts fill in the sastrugi

A smooth white surface

The snow just keeps falling out here at Big Razorback. When there's no wind it accumulates rapidly.

This mother and her pup were doing what seals do best during a storm--lying on the snow and drinking milk.

These seals are lying in a sheltered area next to a drift.

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