I’ve been waiting to leave McMurdo for five days. Each day, I get my hopes up, only to have them dashed with a “24 hour delay” notice for my flight. The weather has had other plans for us, buffeting our area with one storm after another. (Or, maybe it is one giant storm filled with a bunch of “sucker holes”)
It’s funny having one’s fate dependent upon something so out of one’s control as the weather. I alternate between extreme frustration/rage and bemusement. The longer the delay goes on, the funnier it gets, and also, the more annoying. I think I understand why desert people have developed that in s'Allah (as God wills it) attitude towards events. When the weather dictates your life, you either learn to bend or you break.
Two nights ago, McMurdo was under a Condition 1 lockdown, which is a fairly rare event at this time of the year. In Condition 1, visibility drops to almost nothing and it is a real hazard to venture outside. Cass was stuck in Gallagher’s with The Today Show crew for about an hour until the conditions lifted enough for her to run to the dorm.
The people out at Penguin Ranch are bearing the brunt of these storms, being awash with snow drifts, wind, and the very real possibility of running out of propane to heat the huts. Fortunately, one of the huts still uses a Preway stove, which is fueled by an abundant supply of diesel. If push comes to shove, they can all move into that hut to stay warm.
So, here I sit, waiting for clear skies. After all, storms must end sometime….