Monday 12th December – Horizontal snow


Today I feel like I have arrived in Antarctica.  Snow is being blown horizontally on the back of the 30mph wind.  Over-night this has changed the fairly flat site around the temporary camp and associated buildings to ridges and troughs everywhere.  When there is a deposit of fresh snow the contrast can become so uniform that you cannot see changes in the surface.  A step forward and you can immediately trip or if still upright, find your-self waist high in powdery snow. With time you learn to anticipate where snow should have been deposited – which is usually long tails going from high and wide to low and narrow from east to west.  You also learn where you can shelter from the wind and to where to expect strong gusts – which is typically a couple of metres from the upwind edge of a building.  At Halley the wind is predominately eastward for around 70% of the year so the conditions become expected. Access routes tend to be on the upward face to avoid the snow drifts, and entrance doors on the north south axis as there tends to be a trough where snow builds up slower than on the east west axis.
Temporary camps have been built at both the original Halley site 6 as well as the new site 6a.  So as the modules are moved, staff can also be accommodated where the work needs to be undertaken. Today the temporary camp kitchen had snow blown in through cracks leading to inside snow up to knee height.  As the day warmed up snow on the roof melted and again found pathways to leak into both the kitchen and corridor. The temporary camp tent is piled up with snow pushing in the on the fabric between the arched frames on the east side and after a careful dig out with shovels, the dozers could clear the rest.  It’s easy to see how previous tunnel type designs could become fully buried within a season.
Today we hoped to carry out bolt adjustments and then lower the H2 module ready for towing tomorrow.   I spent some time using energy calculations taking me back to A level physics to work out the theoretical stopping distance, which with slope adjustment gave me a value around 150mm.
Due to the continuation of the poor weather it makes everything take so much longer and increases the risk of errors and potential of injuries, so the decision is taken to not battle for small gains today.