A real chill in the air

If you've found yourself complaining about the winter chill, spare a thought for Scott Base overwinter staff who spent the weekend locked down amid one of the fiercest forms of storm on the planet.

In ``Condition-1'' weather - or Con 1 as crew at the Antarctic outpost call it - temperatures can drop below -73degC and winds can reach more than 100kmh.

``Condition-1 weather events result in Scott Base shutting down all outside activities,'' Antarctica New Zealand Antarctic operations general manager Simon Trotter said.

All the base facilities and surrounding buildings were then closed up for the duration of the storm cycle, he said.

The furious storms can result in damage to buildings and science installations - and often a big clean-up afterwards.

``It is a little like living in a wind tunnel in terms of noise, waiting for the storm to abate and visibility to improve,'' Mr Trotter said.

``It is not uncommon for visibility to shut down to zero, which creates a situation where there is no sense of direction should you be caught out in these conditions.''

Scott Base water engineer Tim McPhee described the storm as ``a strange sensation''.

``You are being buffeted by wind from all sides and after a few steps you are walking in literally nothing, sensory deprivation.

``All you can see is white and the ground immediately around you.

``And all you hear is wind noise.

``I walk down there every day but you lose your sense of direction quite quick.''

Condition-3 weather, unbearably cold by any other measure, is considered normal in the Antarctic. 


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