Although the winter season started a few months, back Davis station has remained pretty much devoid of any of the white stuff we all come to Antarctica to see. The fabled ‘snow’ that is supposed to frequent the continent, has pretty much decided to give us a wide berth down here and left the whole station looking akin to a mining camp in outback Australia on a freezing cold morning! Any snow that has fallen here since the beginning of the season has been proceeded by winds usually blowing in excess of 50 knots for a day or two. This has had the effect of blowing what little snow we did get, straight out onto the sea ice!
Amazingly, the day after midwinter was celebrated, it was as if the heavens heard our call and opened up with a beautiful powder dump. We had a few days straight of snow, not always heavy but a good buildup ensued. Thanks to a few days of it being able to settle on the ground before we got our 60+ knot blow, most of the snow stayed put. We did finally get snow falling whilst the wind was blowing and this as well as the bit of loose powder around culminated in some spectacular formations in the lee of buildings and machinery. The only downside has been that we have needed to carve a lot of new stairways in to get up, over or around all the new snow features on station.
Strangely, when I went to work last Saturday I couldn’t find one of our Ring Main Unit’s (a little blue building that distributes our power) that I swore was installed just past the sleeping medical quarters. After some pondering I grabbed a shovel and proceeded to dig a tunnel in the general direction of where I remembered the building being. After three hours of this, I had somehow luckily dug straight up to the door first go and opened an area big enough to allow access to this building. The RMU houses all the circuit breakers etc. that supply power to the living quarters so it was important that we had access to it at all times. After three hours and about two cubic meters of snow removal my work was done.
Now we have had a few days without wind and the snow looks like it’s firmly stuck we may have seen the last of the rock and dirt for the season. Fingers crossed.