As we came out of winter and headed towards summer, it was a good opportunity to have a closer look around the station and see what the combination of months of strong winds and sideways snow have done to our vehicles and buildings.
What is a blizzard? I think the meteorological version is gale force winds (over 34 knots), visibility less than 100 metres by blowing snow which needs to be continuous over a period of at least an hour.
The combination of strong winds blowing fine snow (known as drift snow) means that any little gap or opening will let the drift snow in and it builds up very rapidly over a blizzard or several blizzards. At this stage we have had over 25 blizzards this year!
We park a lot of our vehicles and equipment outside during winter, as we do not have large sheds or garages where they can be parked. Certain precautions are undertaken such as parking directly into the wind and fitting ‘blizz’ covers to certain vehicles. This does help reduce the amount of snow build-up inside vehicle, most times. Sometimes there is really not much else you can do except let it fill up with snow — that snow stops more from entering.
Once summer comes we dig out the vehicles and remove as much snow from inside as out, then we heat the vehicles to remove the last of the snow and stop it forming into ice. The vehicles are then brought into a heated workshop were they are serviced and inspected, ready for the summer.
The buildings here at Mawson are generally clear of snow and the build-up of snow. We do get blizz tails on the downwind side of some buildings where the snow is deposited after slowing down. This is primarily due to their design and their orientation to the prevailing snow carrying winds.
The upwind side of buildings stays clear of snow due to the turbulence and scouring effect of the wind hitting the building.
One photo (below) is of the receivers hut (Budgie) that sits in a deep wind scour with snow banks over three metres all around.
The old original Mawson station buildings entrances are also clear of blizz snow, whilst all around the snow has built up to over five metres deep.
This shows that the good design and location of our buildings allows them to be accessed all year round.