Nov. 16th – Day 320 on Ice

Weather: Unseasonably warm, windy, cloudy. Temps got up to -11F today!

We have been delayed opening station for about 3 weeks. Generally South Pole Station gets it’s first flights in around the 3rd week of October, but due to COVID logistics and weather, we have still yet to receive a flight and are nearing the record late opening of Nov 20th (set in the Navy days in like 1956 or something). It really is an unprecedented year for South Pole Winterovers.

Current weather models don’t show much hope over the next few days, so we have to just wait and see. The difficulty of course being that weather has to be good in McMurdo as well as at Pole (for the ~12 hour round trip the Baslers take).

I have been scheduled to leave Pole on November 30th, but if our new winter over crew doesn’t arrive for a few more days, we might have to extend that until the December 12th flight out of Pole (which would then go northbound to CHC on Dec 17th). I think a 2 week turnover period would be short, but doable with our experienced incoming SPTers, but something more like 10 days is starting to push the envelope.

One good thing about all these delays is that McMurdo is now in level green (meaning they don’t need to socially distance, etc). So the first few flights into Pole will also allow us to remain in green which will make turnover and training much easier and more convenient. The confounding factor is that a southbound flight from CHC to McM is scheduled to bring pax in later this week… so McM will go back to yellow , and any other pax flights to Pole will then also turn Pole yellow.

While it would be neat to break the all-time latest station open record, it would also be nice to have our replacements arrive soon to start the turnover. People who have jobs lined up and have been delayed for ~3weeks are starting to get antsy! Luckily (or unluckily) I of course don’t have any travel plans and I work for SPT as a grad student, so the delays don’t affect me (besides family who want to see me again!).

It’s crazy to think that we will be opening soon. Some people have had to pack up their things and ‘bag drag’ (which is where you take your luggage to be weighed, and then they palletize your baggage). I couldn’t imagine having to pack already. Seems like this place is just my life now and going back to the ‘real world’ is just a thing we joke about. No-fly November is really living up to it’s name… but we will soon have new faces on station, and the real work will begin!

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