Feb 23: Stormy Weather

For the past couple days we’ve been in the middle of a bad weather system with sustained winds around 30-40 knots and gusts reaching 70 knots (80 mph)…

We’ve been lucky with having relatively good weather since we arrived at Palmer Station in early February. Although the weather hasn’t been perfect—with most days being overcast and sometimes rainy—we’ve usually been able to go out on the Zodiacs to do our sampling.

Normally calm water near Palmer Station the day after a storm where sustained winds were 30-40 knots, gusting to 70 knots.  Photo by Lori Price.
Normally calm water near Palmer Station the day after a storm where sustained winds were 30-40 knots, gusting to 70 knots. Photo by Lori Price.

For safety reasons, we aren’t allowed to use the Zodiacs when the winds get above 20 knots (23 mph). Although we aren’t forbidden to go out when it’s raining if the winds are low enough, it makes sampling pretty cold and miserable. However, for the past couple days we’ve been in the middle of a bad weather system with sustained winds around 30-40 knots and gusts reaching 70 knots (80 mph). Needless to say, everyone stayed inside and did a lot of much-needed lab work and data processing. When I had to go outside to walk between the two main buildings I was getting blown around by the wind. It’s a good thing there are railings on the walkways!!

The Zodiacs that we use stay in the water at all times and between sampling trips they are parked in the “parking lot” right outside of the main laboratory building, securely tied to the rocks by bow and stern lines. Last night, however, because the waters got so rough with the high winds, the lines became tangled and started shredding. This morning, the support staff, with the help of some scientists, made a heroic rescue of the Zodiacs, getting them all out of the water safely. I guess we won’t be sampling for a while!!

The winds are calming down a bit and the barometric pressure is rising, so hopefully tomorrow will be a bit nicer and we can get back out on the water.   These past couple of days have been nice though, because we’re forced to take it easy and catch up on some important lab and computer work.

Author: David Malmquist

David Malmquist is the Director of Communications at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.

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