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5 September, 2003

First Day of Sunshine

Well, that was a big storm! Two days of non-stop 50 mph winds at minus 15 F. It just did not stop until this morning. Last night our science group was escorted out of the building by the SAR's (Search and Rescue people). They wanted to be sure no one walked alone outside because you could get blown down or lost. Actually, it was more practice than reality, but it was good to see everyone together. We were forced to find other things to do, so I played Trivial Pursuit and read a book on Galileo.

Today though, is completely different. It warmed up immensely, it is now 1 F. And the sun is out for the first day at McMurdo, a truly wonderful feeling! The snow has piled up everywhere, and as we approached our launching spot we were greeted with a ten foot pile of snow, fortunately the snow left a gap by the door, otherwise we would be shoveling for a long time. The balloon launched perfectly, it was a match to a parcel of air first sampled at a Japanese station along the coast.

A great website to visit is at the University of Wisconsin Madison. They have a meteorology program there specializing in Antarctica. I attach a photo of the storm, look at the swirls and cells around the continent; here you have a visual of what is known as the polar vortex, the circle of storms about the continent with the emptiness at its interior. A small eddy from one of the main cells was the storm we felt.

The view from above the South Pole. This is the polar vortex, swirling cyclonic storms about the pole.

The storm swirling snow.

The strong winds push the powder snow into every crevice.

A small problem finding the door after the storm.

Just enough room to get inside.

A perfect launch.

The first daylight disappears.

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