It’s now middle of April, two months since the final A319 flight left for the season with the last of the summer expeditioners. Temperatures have started to drop and you can tell that winter is coming. During last week, temperatures dropped to minus twenty four degrees Centigrade combined with a wind of twenty three knots — makes for a cold walk to work.
When you venture out you have to protect your face or you suffer wind burn which feels like sunburn but is a lot less dangerous. But it’s going to get a lot colder yet. The small lake that provides the station drinking water is frozen and would make the perfect ice staking rink. If only we had ice skates! Even the sea has begun to freeze. What was the location for the Australia Day swim back in January is now a frozen jumble of ice blocks.
It is now possible to walk across to Shirley Island. To make sure it is safe, sea ice thickness measurements are made. It needs to be 200mm thick for foot travel and 400mm for quad bikes. Currently the passage is between 350 and 500mm. It will go to 1200 — 1500mm by the end of winter.
Of course the penguins are long gone, out onto the edge of the sea ice. The only signs of their presence are the pebbles they fought for so vigorously over during summer. What are some of the other signs that it is getting colder? Well, the snow has taken on the nature of styrofoam, breaking off in chunks and squeaking as you walk on it.
Stalactites are forming on the outside of the buildings and even stalagmites can be found if you look hard enough. The windows of the red shed, the accommodation building, has ice crystals growing on the outside of the double glazed windows.
Winter is still six weeks away so Casey station waits in anticipation to see what the middle of winter is really like. How cold can it really get?