11 October, 1998

I actually got a chance to sleep in a little this morning. Sunday is supposed to be a day off for anyone except non-essential personnel but research does not have regular office hours so after a late start it was back to the lab today. We cannot get outside for anything other than walking between buildings anyway. The weather is still bad outside and not expected to get any better for a couple of days. Right now we are in condition one outside.

Weather conditions are a major determinant in what and how much work can be done. There are some conditions that simply make outdoor work dangerous. Heavy winds, wind chill factor and visibility are the three major factors in determining what can be done. The weather conditions are broken down into Conditions I, II, and III. The worst weather condition is condition I.

With heavy winds and cold temperatures a wind chill can instantly freeze exposed skin. Wind chills lower than -100 F are considered dangerous even with the best of cold weather gear. Even around McMurdo with the buildings so close together people are advised to stay inside during condition I weather. If you are out in the field when condition I weather hits you have to take shelter. Every group that ventures outside of McMurdo for more than an hour has to take special cold weather survival gear which includes a mounteering tent and a small stove.

Another problem with Condition I weather as we are experiencing right now the winds pick up snow and visibility drops down below 100 feet. Right now visibility was less than 10 feet. Out in the field it would be very easy to get lost or become disoriented and that could prove disastrous.

Condition II is also dangerous to be out in. You need to take greater precaution when working out in this weather. Most work away from McMurdo has to be approved and done under pretty strict guidelines.

Condition III means we take normal precautions during the day. It is still pretty cold but the main thing is that wind and visibility are not major factors.

Because of the weather we really did not do a lot today. We went to a lecture on what research was being planned for this year in the area. It did get a bit boring. We do not have enough fish yet to start our research so there is not a lot of work to do in the lab. We all came to the lab thinking we would get something accomplished but the weather changed all of that.

This weather does remind you of the dangers in Antarctica. I cannot imagine how the early century explorers survived at all. Actually some did not survive. Even in the last few years here people have lost their lives. That is evident by the crosses that have been erected around here. Antarctica takes its toll. That concludes another day.


Stephanie Shipp

Department of Geology (713) 285-5168

& Geophysics MS126 (713) 285-5214 fax

Rice University shippst@ruf.rice.edu

Post Office Box 1892

6100 South Main

Houston, Texas 77005 *************************************************

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