The weather in the area is monitored closely, and posted for us in buildings and on the intranet here at McMurdo. We always need to check conditions before we go outside or plan a trip down to the airfield.
They use a “condition” rating system where “condition 3” is good, and “condition 2” is severe (take precautions), and “condition 1” is severe (don’t leave your building). Happily, it is generally condition 3 around here.
I have been in a couple of condition 2 days down at the airfield. Both of those condition 2 days were for visibility. One was a very cold windy day with blowing snow, and one was a foggy day.
Last Friday, the weather at Willy Field was listed as condition 2 (visibility was less that 1/4 mile), even though it was a gorgeous day (condition 3) at Mcmurdo, which is up on a hill above the ice shelf. So conditions can vary depending on where you are. The weather on the ice shelf is often much harsher.
Low visibilty could be a huge problem when you are in an all white environment. We are pretty isolated out here at the airfield, so if you went the wrong way jsut walking from your tent to the galley building, or lose the flag marker on the road on the way to the airfield, you could easily get lose your sense of direction. Once you are off of the path, and away from the few sparsely place airfield buildings, there is nothing. So, we heed the warnings!
The temperatures around here right now are not that bad (if it isn’t windy). It is about 7o F right now, with a low of 1o F overnight. We have had a few below zero days, but it generally is above 0oF. On a sunny, windless day, I am generally quite comfortable (of course, I have wool layers, hat, gloves, and a big red parka on! ) . However, when it is windy, it does get really cold. We often have a wind chill of less than -20oF . Another reason to pay attention to conditions and be where you are supposed to be.