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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 01/ 5/2010

Ann to Antarctica: Weather delays flight

By Ann Posegate

* Ann off to Antarctica | Top international weather of 2009 *
* The cold holds... light snow? Full Forecast | Static cling season *

A sign designating McMurdo Station in Antarctica, the United States' largest reseach station. Courtesy National Science Foundation

Every so often, Washington, D.C.'s weather proves to be a burden to day-to-day activities. But, when weather in Antarctica is bad, it can delay military jets carrying hundreds of scientists and personnel, as well as food, supplies and equipment to the ice for days.

This is what happened during our first attempt to depart Christchurch, New Zealand, for McMurdo Station, Antarctica yesterday. Currently, our team is awaiting another phone call letting us know if our flight will get underway in the next day. As of 10:00 p.m. New Zealand time, McMurdo Station had one mile of visibility, light snow falling and temperatures in the high 20s Fahrenheit. Even though these conditions may not seem bad considering current weather in the eastern United States, they are not ideal for a cargo jet landing on a landing strip of ice.

The weather around McMurdo can change quickly, so the five-hour flights from the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch are dependent on weather conditions in McMurdo. If weather is too severe as the jet approaches the "point of no return," the pilot "boomerangs" and returns to Christchurch. The boomerang record is seven times for one flight; luckily, our flight was delayed before we boarded.

The summer weather in and around Christchurch, which lies on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, is also quite variable. If a wind blows in from the northwest over the Southern Alps, it carries dry, warm air into the region. However, if an easterly wind blows in from the Pacific, it brings moist, cool air. Wind speed and direction, as well as temperature, can change quite rapidly. The locals are not kidding when they tell you to dress in layers ... for both New Zealand and Antarctic weather!

View the webcam and current conditions to stay up-to-date with weather at McMurdo.

CWG's Ann Posegate is part of a group of journalists selected by the National Science Foundation to travel to Antarctica and report on weather, climate and environmental science research going on there. Read more about Ann's trip and itinerary here.

By Ann Posegate  | January 5, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Posegate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Top weather events of 2009: International edition
Next: PM Update: Mostly cloudy, more flurries possible


This is a very interesting post, keep us updated. How long are you going to be there for?

Posted by: BritBobinHerndon | January 5, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

McMurdo is showing a windchill warmer than the current temp...

Posted by: spgass1 | January 5, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

That's odd . . . maybe a really balmy breeze? ;)

Posted by: ah___ | January 5, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

That's very exciting Ann. I'm looking forward to the photos.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 5, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Ann, could you be persuaded to Tweet some of this trip? I can get tweets on my BB 24x7...but I can't always find specific CWG blog posts on the WaPo mobile site, and even when I do, I can't open them past the jump to expanded content! :-(

Posted by: --sg | January 5, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

McMurdo must of fixed their stats... or else maybe the balmy breeze turned blustery...

Posted by: spgass1 | January 5, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully you can take more than 3 ounces of moisturizer!

Posted by: prokaryote | January 6, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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