What is it like to arrive at Casey station for the first time? Find out in this week’s news plus a weather update, and a visit from stranded French and Italian expeditioners.

Foreign visitors

This week Casey was host to fifteen French and Italian expeditioners who were on transit to Concordia, the jointly operated Italian and French Antarctic station at Dome C. Concordia is situated on the Antarctic Plateau at 3232 metres (10,607 feet) and some 1100 kms from Casey. It is one of the coldest places on Earth.

The Foreign expeditioners were stranded at Casey when aviation conditions changed making flying impossible. Unfortunately, the “full house“ sign was up at Casey but in typical Antarctic tradition, beds were soon created around station including mattresses on the floor in the theatre. Our foreign friends soon settled into the community and were put to good use working with the Casey crew.

Saturday afternoon provided sunshine for a walk to Shirley Island and once all were equipped with throw bags and ice axes, they were on their way under the watchful eye of a Casey trip leader. Each group was easily identifiable with the Italians in red, the Aussies in yellow and the French in blue. The expeditioners took part in drilling sea ice with a number enjoying seeing penguins and icebergs for the first time. With Concordia being an inland station at Dome C, the chance to be waylaid at Casey station provided a coastal Antarctic experience they say they will never forget.

It will be sad to see them go as friendships were formed. The crew at Casey wish them a safe and productive season.

Bureau of Meteorology handover

The 2014 Casey winter crew have handed the reins over to the new crew and will fly off into the sunset, all going to plan.


The end of November brought closure for the winter staff at Casey station. Meteorological observers Steve Black and Dan Laban, and meteorological tech Kevin Gun, left the building on Snowbird flight number two on 4 Dec 2014 after 12 months at Casey station. 2015 incoming crew of Robert Michelini, Zachary Hussain and Emry Crocker were joined by summer forecasting staff Michelle Hollister, Kerri Budd and Gabriel Branescu for a farewell and welcoming group photo. The transition is complete.

The month of November that was

Summer is upon us. With eight days in the positive and a zero in support, it has been a much warmer month than usual. Apart from some good winds early in the month which blew out the sea ice and fortunately for my welfare, a farewell blizzard at the end, it has been a fairly average month for winds. Not so for sun and snow, above average for snow and below average for sunshine.

With a string of positive temperatures early in the month we finished with a very comfortable average daily maximum of −1.0°C, 1.5°C warmer than normal. This of course translated into warmer than average daily minimums, our average of −6.2°C, an impressive 2.7°C warmer than the norm making it the warmest November on record for daily minimums. The 12 degree temperature range was the most modest we've experienced in many months — the month’s top 1.0°C, with the low (Is that all you got?) -11.0°C.

We had 16 strong wind and 11 gale force wind days for the month, a little above the average of 14 and 8 respectively. The few extra windy days was broken up with a number of warm calm days such that the month’s average daily wind run of 604 km was fairly close to the 582 km mean. Thinking we were not going to get a last hoorah, the weather makers obliged and delivered the only blizzard of the month on the last day. That brings our annual tally of blizzard days to 30, well short of the 42 average with little chance of making many more inroads with December expecting at most the one blizzard day.

A genuine ‘snowy’ day was had this month with an awesome 8.2 mm on the 15 November the second highest snowfall of the year triggering a few snow ball fights and bumping our total for the month to 15.8 mm, above the 12.7 mm average. This brings our annual total up to 132 mm, however it is still going to require a Steven Bradbury type event if we are to catch up to the annual average of 221.7 mm. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too — the extra snow was at the expense of the sun! Who would have thought you need clouds to make snow?! Our average of 3.8 hours of sunshine a day was well below the mean of 6.9 hours. The transition is complete.

Reflections — arriving at Casey station

Training is finally over and most are excited that all their hard work is about to be put into practice. Most of us don’t sleep much the last night before departing to Antarctica, and are ready well before time. To be finally sitting on the plane is just awesome and all a bit surreal but finally we are on our way. The flight is smooth and with a large open space in the middle for cargo, makes it a breeze and a great place to hang out and chat for the  four and a half hour flight.

Everyone gets a bit excited when we receive the call to put our survival gear on and get ready for landing. We can now see the ice, most of us for the first time. Touch down is one of the smoothest landings I have have ever experienced and all the passengers start clapping as we roll to a steady halt. After a short briefing we step outside. The −10°C temperature is crisp and a big difference to the Australian summer we had just left.

We are directed to the waiting vehicles that set off across the blue ice and snow at steady 20 kilometres an hour. We have a brief photo stop at the Antarctic circle sign which is just awesome. We arrive on station and are quickly welcomed with a warm meal and a cold beer from the local beer team. This all seems a bit much to take in as we look outside — full daylight and it’s after 8pm.

Having found our counterpart on station, we busily set about the handover process which just seem way too short to take onboard all the information we need to survive the next year. Bill takes over as station leader and we are soon waving goodbye to old crew that are looking forward to a well earned break.

The station is ours now and I must say the out-going crew have given us a great start, and we are quickly up and running. Every morning the view is stunning over the bay with large icebergs catching the morning sunlight. It’s not every day you are just casually sitting at the bar with your mates and a wild penguin walks past the window.

Gordon Tait