Our boilermaker and welder recounts what it's like when 'black' travel restrictions shut down all outside activity at Casey

100 Knots, 115 mph, 185km/h

The weather ensemble was posted to the notice board and the usual conversations were held standing around it. Grumblings about the wind picking up for the weekend, plans for for outdoor work, temperature predictions.

A significant increase in the mess of tangled lines representing windspeed sparked more speculation. Bets were taken on whether we'd crack 100 knots and a condition black (no outside travel allowed).

The blizz lines were set and the hatches battened (although in hindsight not quite enough). Thursday morning, I woke to the distinctive rumble of the redshed when windspeed is over 70 knots. Although it's a sturdy building with walls over a meter thick in places, it’s not unshakeable.

HVAC ductwork and ceiling tiles have a tendency to rattle around and can make conversations difficult in the hallways (it’s that loud).

Considering that it might be the first genuine black blizz day for the station, I headed downstairs to find an excited collection of expeditioners hovering around the weather display screen. Phones at the ready, for the obligatory photo of 100 knots.

I shouldn’t have worried - for the next 10 hours the wind continued to gust well over three figures. Having experienced a cyclone in Central Queensland and numerous 70 – 80 knot days on station, the fierce pace was a surprise even to me.

The two burliest diesos were sent to the powerhouse for checks, each with a harness on and clipped to each other. Viewing spots were at a premium in common areas, everyone keen to observe objects that until this point, had been deemed unmovable.

A day stuck indoors at Casey has a common theme for all expeditioners. Coffee, food and conversations. A steady stream of wanderers into the kitchen, some pretending to offset their snacking with washing a few dishes, or helping chef Claire with prep, then to the baked goods, then coffee. Once the downstairs treasures have been raided, its often time for a trip upstairs to check out the lollies, chocolate and chips selection. A movie, documentary or TV season are chosen for viewing in the cinema.

Among the trades groups who primarily work outside or away from the baked goods stockpiles, blizz days are considered special. In what may be the only real inside day we have for the season, it really left a mark. No one here will forget the day it blew over 100knots for 10 hours. A fitting way to experience a blizz day, in keeping with the 'very not normal' season we have had here.

(BoM Observer note) The highest wind gust we recorded during this blow was 114kts/131mph/211kmh.

Dom Vidler

Station Boilermaker Welder