It was with much anticipation that we awaited this week’s big event at Davis — the sun rose on Sunday afternoon at 1331 — for the first time in over six weeks. We had the ‘Welcome Back the Sun’ BBQ brunch then proceeded up to the heli hut (one of the highest points on station) to witness this once a year occurrence. Needless to say the clouds that had been rolling in all day continued to thicken and we didn’t even get an inkling of where the sun might be.
We thought maybe Monday we might see the sun, but that brought another first for this winter — our first honest to goodness blizzard. Mawson and Casey might nod their heads knowingly, but here at Davis it doesn’t happen very often.
A blizzard is defined as a wind speed average of more than or equal to 34 knots (around 60km/hr) per minute over an hour, along with a drop in temperature below zero and visibility less than 100 metres. We ticked each box excitedly — winds gusting over 115km/hr for a good part of the night, temperatures around −10°C (actually a rise from the bitingly cold temperatures below −30°C that we have had since before Midwinter), and finally visibility of less than 100 metres as the snow that has fallen lately was picked up by the strong winds and redistributed around station (particularly over entrances and access routes).
It is hard to capture a blizzard, as the blowing snow biting into your face like needles of ice has to be experienced, but the images give you some idea. I have just heard the team on the radio calling an end to snow clearing today, as once again the winds have picked up. The trip back to the living quarters will be an interesting one!