Well, the long Casey summer of weather records has come to an end and winter is fast approaching. In fact, looking at some of the records we have set you might think winter set in quite a while ago. During January we set new records for lowest maximum and minimum temperatures with −2.9 and −10.3 degrees respectively. In February we again shivered with a record low temperature of −18.0 degrees. March was the month for blizzards. Usually we average two blizzards in March but this year we got to enjoy five. It was a ‘summer’ that certainly helped us acclimatise for the winter ahead.
The real story of summer though was the December 18 thunderstorm. It was an extremely rare event that excited both the weather enthusiasts on station and the climatologists in both Australia and the U.S.A.. When you consider Antarctica is the coldest and driest continent and thunderstorms require heat, moisture and uplift, its no surprise that it created such a stir. For good measure it also gave us a record December wind gust of 109 knots, the equivalent of a category 3 cyclone!
So what can we expect over the coming months? Well, more blizzards, snow, wind and dropping temperatures. May is statistically our coldest month with an average maximum of −11.2 and minimum of −18.6 degrees. The coldest temperature recorded at the current site is −37.5 degrees in August 2005 but if summer is anything to go by I think we can beat it. June, July and August are our windiest months and we can expect around one blizzard every five days during this period. For the weather observers on station this means many hours of fun shovelling snow from in front of the balloon building!
Craig George, Senior Meteorological Observer