It’s never fun commuting to work in bad weather, but at Mawson research station working in bad weather is often a constant reality.
This season we have clocked up 46 blizzard days across 9-months. During a full 12-month season, Mawson normally averages 37 blizzard days, so we’re currently averaging a blizzard every 6 days.
With another 3 months of the season still to go, our current blizzard tally of 46 is the equal 6th highest blizzard season on record and likely to climb higher still. The all-time record for Mawson is 65 blizzard days set in 1996.
The Bureau of Meteorology defines a blizzard day when the following three events are observed together:
- temperature is less than zero degrees Celsius,
- visibility is less than 100-metres, and
- wind speed is greater than ‘gale force’ (34 knots / 63km/h) and persists for at least one hour.
Here on station, most blizzard days have seen winds averaging well above 60 knots (111km/h), with maximum gusts up to 105 knots (194km/h). The constant blizz barrage has ‘affectionately’ become known as ‘Blizz TV’, with the seemingly endless snow winds resembling a TV test pattern.
Despite the extreme conditions, we are still required to work outside to ensure essential station services are maintained. Safe travel during blizzard conditions is paramount, so we travel in pairs, follow blizzard lines, and maintain radio contact at all times.
Mawson Top 10 season blizzard days (records commenced in 1991)
1. 65 (1996)
2. 63 (2001)
3. 57 (2003)
4. 54 (2006)
5. 49 (1998)
6. 46 (2017 & 2019)
8. 43 (2000)
9. 42 (2013)
10. 41 (1997)
Mean Season Average: 37
- Mawson 72nd ANARE