An NBC5 Intern at the South Pole

November 17, 2008 at 10:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A few years ago, I lived a life-long dream, when I made a trip to Antarctica.  I went as a tourist, on a ship sailing from the southern tip of South America, down to the Antarctic Peninsula, where I sailed among icebergs, got close-up views of whales, penguins and seals, and walked in the snows of Antarctica.  It was a trip of a lifetime for me.

But one of our former interns in the weather department has put me to shame.  Krissie Shiroma spent a summer with us, learning the broadcast meteorology business, and then spent 5 years working at TV stations in Sherman-Denison, and in Iowa.  But now, her career has taken a big turn.  Krissie is spending the next six months at the South Pole. Not just Antarctica, but at the actual pole itself!

geographic-pole

 

balloon

Here is some of Krissie’s commentary after her arrival at the pole:

Hello All,

Here is a picture of my first weather balloon release last week. Now I
do the whole process, all by myself, every other day.

Another part of my job is taking surface observations for the incoming
planes. There are anywhere from 3-8 flights a day, so every hour we
provide an observation. We provide them more often if the conditions
are changing rapidly. 

Since every direction is north here, we work on a directional grid system so that we can still call winds N,S,E, and W.
The Prime Meridian is our north.

all-points-north

I live in a Jamesway, or Quonset hut. I can’t take a picture of it right now, because the cold killed my camera battery. It’s basically a big tent. You can hear everything – every cough, every sneeze, every conversation, every nose blow, and every person walking in the snow outside. There are 13 rooms in my hut – 6 or 7 on each side of the hall. Some rooms are double-sized. Mid-tent, there’s a furnace area. Some rooms have a wooden door, and some rooms have a tent canvas door flap or tent canvas on a shower curtain rod. Thankfully mine is wood. The huts are dark and quiet (for the most part), and the hallways are lit with red light bulbs so you can see your room number. The rooms are all different shapes and sizes and come with different set-ups. My neighbor’s bed sticks out into the hallway. If you happened to have had a carpenter living in your room before, you might be set up with some pretty sweet shelves, like I am. I was on the second flight into the Pole for the summer season, so when we got here, the place was pretty empty. But that first night, we also learned how inconvenient not having indoor plumbing is. Camping is sure fun, for about a week. And then you drive home and thank the heavens that civilization has provided you with all kinds of neat things.

The Bathroom. Imagine that every time you had to get up in the middle of the night to pee, you had to get dressed in winter clothing, walk down a 25 foot long hallway that’s minus 65 degrees, step over a 6-inch by 1-foot long snow mobile tread, and have a night light as bright as the midday sun. And when you were done, you had to walk down the same said hallway. Well, this is not ideal.

When it’s around -40°C/F and colder, this makes it super easy for
clouds to form. It’s so cold that contrails can form on the ground.
I’ve included a picture of a C-130 that just landed. And it’s producing
a contrail on the ground. I took this from the observation deck where
we can see the skiway(runway), north, west, and south. If you look
close enough, you can see the C-130’s skis. Okay, that’s enough
nerdiness for now.

I have a day off tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to do with
myself. The weather dept. has 13-day workweeks, so I haven’t had a
weekend yet. Unfortunately, I still have to walk to the Station if I
want to eat. And I’m always willing to eat.

Okay, that’s all for now,
Krissie

Here you can see some of the jet contrails at ground level, when the aircraft land at these extremely cold temperatures:

contrail1

One of the funniest parts of this story is that Krissie’s family is from Hawaii.  But Krissie herself was born here in Dallas, and grew up in Richardson.  So she is used to warm weather, and this is quite a change of scenery (and climate) for her.  Good luck with your new job Krissie, and keep warm.

Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock

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