With the unexpected and very exciting visit of the emperor penguin and review of instructions to re-establish the Wilkins Aerodrome occurring concurrently; the question on everyone’s mind, of course, is ‘how do you herd a penguin?'
Perhaps not something required in any location other than Antarctica, but a good question in any case. And, not surprisingly at all, something that has actually been considered and for which operating instructions have been written. Penguins on a runway, with an incoming plane, are not a good thing. So, our boy scout (always prepared) Aviation team have of course thought ahead and determined the best way to evacuate said penguins safely and efficiently.
In accordance with the instructions (below); it seems the key is to approach slowly and steadily making loud sounds, head them in the direction of the shortest route in which to clear the runway, and avoid causing penguin panic. We do not want a tobogganing penguin! All makes sense. Right?
The things you learn when in Antarctica…
In other news, it seems we’re in the windy season here at Casey. The Bureau of Meteorology records maximum wind gust observations and for 13 July we had 176km/hr (95kts) winds gusts and the following weekend, 20 and 22 July, 172km/hr (93kts) gusts.
What does this mean?
Well, for the last two weekends in a row we’ve had blizzards from Friday afternoon through to Monday morning. Very convenient for those wanting maximum work done on station, but not very convenient for those who might want to get off station to undertake recreation trips to field huts. We’re surviving the enforced weekend ‘lock-in’ through exercise, movies, practicing darts in preparation for the annual inter-station darts competition, working on hobbies, planning overseas holidays and looking for work for when we return to civilization in three months’ time.
We now have very little sea ice left around station, with even the wharf clear of ice (if only it was resupply now!). Any small weakness on a building or on machinery is worked away at by the sustained winds so the blizz enters the building or the weak part is torn away (see pic of ANARESAT dome, quickly fixed as soon as the winds dropped, and pic of loader panels found 100s of meters from the loader). The winds also blow away any loose snow that may be lying around, so all surfaces have been ‘snow-blasted’ to become sheet ice making for a precarious walk around station.
Luckily though, the station infrastructure is made to withstand these extreme weather conditions and we make it through relatively unscathed; especially noting that if in the tropics each event would have been classified as a severe tropical cyclone.
As I write this update, we have storm force winds once again, this time just a weak (in comparison) 56kts and not officially a blizzard — for that we also need reduced visibility from falling or blowing snow, and there’s no loose snow left on station!
But if we’re locked in for a third weekend in the row, there may be mutiny. So let’s hope, for the sanity of the station (and my health), that it’s over by Friday evening.
Rebecca (Casey SL)