30 November, 2006 Halley
November at Halley saw an average temperature of -9.2°C, average pressure of 978.8hPa, mean scalar wind speed of 14.8 knots. We had 21 days of drifting snow, 20 days of falling snow, 3 days of fog, 12 days with the visibility below 1km, 4 days of gale-force winds, 19 cloudy days and 3 clear days. Snow accumulation was 8.5cm. But that doesn’t really describe what happened on base very well does it?
It’s all work, work, work at Halley at the moment. This year we’ve had record snow accumulation compared to the last 10 years. We’ve had more than double than what was recorded in 1997. This has meant A LOT of digging for everyone.
Preparations are underway for the summer season. This is a good chance for a base spring clean. Everyone’s involved and no stone is left unpolished.
Meanwhile outside, all this extra snow has made a lot of work for us. Everything needs to be dug up and raised.
We’ve also used the last of our fuel stored in containers and so have had to start digging out the fuel drums stored in fuel dumps. These consist of handy piles of full drums, which only take a day of dedicated staff to free from the snow and ice.
In the science camp a few dozen instruments need to be raised and calibrated. The warm temperatures have given the Piggott team a chance to fix the SHARE aerials using the Nodwell crane.
The Drewry summer accommodation building was brought our by hibernation by Brian (Plumber) and Mark (Electrician). This involves bringing everything back into the building, warming it up, testing everything, filling the meltank, moving the food, computers, bedding in and then cleaning it. It’s quite a big job.
Once the Drewry meltank is full and warm we are given the opportunity to clean our meltank. Again this is a job for Technical Services and Brian, Bob (Generator Mechanic), Mark and Liz (Carpenter) were busy for weeks. The job doesn’t normally take this long, but we live on an ice shelf where the temperature is generally below freezing and one of the hazards are that — the pipes froze.
Despite the problems that the BAS aircraft have been having this season we’ve seen a few people go through our remote station by plane. After the Basler went through at the very end of the last month we didn’t think we’d see anyone for a while, so munched through the fresh veg tentatively.
Unfortunately that Basler had a bad landing out by Novo station and needed assistance. All the bases around Antarctica look after one another and since it was so early in the season the nearest aircraft were based as far away as Patriot Hills. They collected the crew and passengers from the site very quickly but had to pass through Halley to get there and back. The small Canadian crew with their funny coloured Twin Otter were a very welcome- which was nice.
Winter trips have still been underway. The temperature has risen significantly since the first ones went off in mid-September. They had fantastic weather, clear skies, low winds and got out exploring the Rumples, Creeks and round Windy and the Penguins.
In other events we’ve had a Murder Mystery evening to Celebrate Vicki’s big birthday, Kirsty organised a fun-filled evening of ZBingo and Simon gave a fantastic slide show of adventurous holidays we can’t go on at the moment (ski-touring in the Alps, canoeing in Scotland).
Vehicle testing for Halley 6 has got underway as our Mechanical Engineer (Jules) has brought in a controversial vehicle. He claims that it is better than the usual Tucker Snocat since “it goes really fast and makes cool tracks”. We all await with anticipation on the full-sized variety, but doubts are setting in whether the ship has room for the remote control.
Much love to family and friends at home,
Frances and the rest of the wintering team