April weather highlights

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This week at Casey: 9 May 2014

A great start to the month with my birthday, a Hobbit feast followed by an unexpected journey. Oh, the weather is what we’re talking about. What weather! It was considerably colder, less than expected snowmelt (rainfall) and very much less windy than expected, in short below average. This translates as far fewer snow days and strong wind days but most distressingly, no blizzards. What’s going on there? We’re supposed to be in Antarctica! Not the African savannah watching hippopotami wallow in the diamond dust.

Just like facing down a charging hippopotamus, ‘When’s the next blow?’ was the terrifying chortling of the crew that had us in meteorology quaking in our baffins. The cause of the crew's unrest? The boring weather, typified by not recording a single blizzard for the month when we normally average three and a half. If last month's wind was “barely enough to lift a hair on a balding head”, then a maximum wind gust of 133 km/hr and just the 11 strong and three gale force wind days, compared to the average of 15 and 10 respectively, wasn’t doing much to part that comb over. The net result, a 512 km average daily wind run, a significant 121 kms below average.

But wait, there’s more! Not only was the wind and weather well below average, so were the temperatures. Our daily maximums averaging -10.0°C, 2.4°C below the norm, while the overnight minimums averaged -17.0°C, a similarly 2.3°C below average. The warmest day of the month was on the 4th, reaching -1.5°C; the lowest 24hr minimum on the 14th bottoming out at -23.9°C. Alas for all this below-average weather, no records were to be broken. About all we can hang our hat on after trolling through the climate stats, it was the 5th coldest April for both maximum and minimum average daily temperatures. Not even on the podium with that one!

To continue the below par story, our 12 snow days, four less than average, delivered a miserly 6.2 mm (snowmelt minimum), well shy of the monthly average of 20.6 mm. Nothing else of note occurred, so to find that little ray of sunshine and finish on a positive, we did have an average of two hours of daily sunshine, which was spot on. That positive won’t last, however, as we move into May, the second least sunny month of the year. Midwinter is fast approaching.

So here’s looking forward to a dark, cold and wet month.

Steve B.

Cloud layers taken on the plateau above Casey
Layers of cloud on the plateau
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Ice halo around the sun
Ice halo around the sun
(Photo: Grant Jasiunas)
Sunset with inversion visible in the cloud layers (upside down)
Sunset with inversion
(Photo: Grant Jasiunas)
Sunset at Casey during April 2014
Evening sun at Casey
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Two expedtioners outside Robbos Hut looking st sunset
Sunset at Robbos
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
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