Antarctic weather records: Mawson station

View of Mawson station buildings with Frammes Mountains behind
Mawson station buildings with Frammes Mountains behind (Photo: Wayne Papps)
Launching a weather balloon.

Each issue we will we bring you highlights of the recent weather experienced at Australia's Antarctic stations. We thought that we'd start with Mawson station being, as it were, the western outpost, and the continental station (excluding the Antarctic Peninsula) with the longest continuous meteorological record. Next issue we'll move to Davis station.

Extremes for the year 2000

Extreme Value Date
Highest air pressure 1015.4 hPa 1st September
Lowest air pressure 953.1 hPa 12th October
Highest minimum temperature –00.6°C 22 December
Lowest minimum temperature –28.3°C 18th May
Lowest maximum temperature –22.5°C 15th May
Highest maximum temperature 03.8°C 30th December
Highest maximum wind gust SE @ 108 knots (200kph) 02:08, 24th May

Weather phenomena

Mawson is a dry but windy place as can be seen from the wind and snow data for 2000. There were 98 continuous days of strong wind (ie 22 knots or greater) between January 30th and April 5th 2000. The record is 101 days between 21st May and 29th August in 1967.

Phenomena Number of Days % of the year
Strong wind (= >22 knots) 340 93
Gales (= >34 knots) 196 54
Blizzard 32 9
Snow fall 49 13
Blowing snow (=< 1km) 58 16

A blizzard is defined as a period of > one hour when the visibility is reduced below 100 m by blowing snow, the temperature is < 0°C and the wind speed is > 33 kts.

Records created in 2000

The following are the month by month extremes observed in 2000 which have been unmatched since February 1954 when records began. The values in brackets are the previous record value. In most of the months not mentioned there were values of one or more parameters which equalled a previous record.

January

Lowest 9am average Station Level Pressure: 978.9 hPa (982.1 hPa in '91)

Lowest 3pm average Station Level Pressure: 979.5 hPa (982.8 hPa in '71 & '91)

Most blizzard days for the month: 3 days (2 in '59, '62, '86, & '97)

February

Most strong wind days (note: 2000 is a leap year): 29 (28 in '56, '66,' 71,' 76, '86, & '91)

Windiest March, average wind-speed: 54.2 kph (51.2 kph in '96)

April

Windiest April, average wind-speed: 56.9 kph (55.1 kph '91)

May

Days of blizzard for the month: 7 (6 days in '69 & '99)

June

Days of blizzard most per month for the year: 23 (19 days in '68)

October

Most hours of sunshine for an October: 380.2 hrs. (310 hrs in '84)

Lowest maximum temperature for an October: –8.1ºC (–7.5 in '91)

Steve Pendlebury
Bureau of Meteorology, Hobart

Data contributed by Max Walsh
Senior Observer at Mawson for 2000