We were glad to read that cold north winds, which for several weeks had been dominating the weather reports from Summit Station, subsided last week. A welcome relief to deep freeze conditions reported earlier. “We hit a wind chill of -107F earlier today and the ambient temperature is around -67F…it doesn’t take much wind to make it bite!”, wrote Shannon Coykendall on 30 November.
In addition to bringing the cold, north winds can blow exhaust from station generators into the pristine sampling zone. Ongoing atmospheric and snow chemistry measurements are impacted when the station’s emissions mix into the signal. So, during periods when the winds blow from the north, station personnel avoid activities that create exhaust.
Twice during late November and early December, the staff had to fire heavy equipment to collect snow to resupply the station’s water supply during north wind conditions. Each time, the science technicians followed protocol and notified the research community.
Finally, last week, “Summit crawled out from underneath the north winds that have dominated the past few weeks. Bringing clouds and warmer weather, the southerlies created an opportune chance to catch up on making water and for the science techs to perform their non-north wind tasking,” wrote station manager Ben Toth. “The winds also gained strength this week, reaching sustained speeds of 15.5 knots. Temperatures this week ranged from a low of -60 C on Tuesday to a high of a balmy -34 C on Saturday.”–Kip Rithner