Black Island, NASA and recreation

It’s been warming up over the last few days in town. It hit +3F today, which was met with groans and grumbles. Generally, temperature warming means there’s a storm brewing. Today, during hours I would normally be in clinic, I’m at home. The hand lines went up shortly after lunch. The hand lines are ropes strung up by the Search and Rescue team between key buildings: medical to the galley, galley to the dorms. When the weather kicks up, visibility can drop to zero making a journey of even 100 yards perilous. We are predicted to have winds upwards of 60 knots range. That’s about 70 mph. I’ve experienced 70mph winds before in the mountains. It’s pretty damn difficult to stand up, much less get where you need to go, especially if you need to go upwind. Given the potential for low visibility and high winds, we were told to keep our pagers on, but not head into the clinic. The conditions are such that flying debris is a real danger. People have been trying to lock down anything potentially mobile and finish up projects all morning. As of right now, the winds haven’t quite kicked in yet, but the forecaster is usually pretty reliable, the timing can just get a little squirrelly.

Not far from here, about a very uncomfortable days drive in a Pisten Bully, is Black Island. That’s where a lot of our off-continent communication equipment is located. There were 40+ knot winds early this am out there, before the storm was expected to hit. We have a team out there right now. Off-continent communications have been on and off all day. We had an equipment malfunction out there last week and a team has been hard at work trying to fix it. A fan or something stopped or working. Medical had to provide basic supplies and training to the Black Island Traverse team. All off station recreation has been put on hold while the team is travelling. We can’t run the risk of having an incident with the Traverse team that required Search and Rescue simultaneously with a local situation. It would stretch the SAR team too thin. So everyone has to recreate on station. The communication outages had to be coordinated with NASA in order to minimize data loss from their spacecraft, some of which is routed through our station. The repairs are anticipated to wrap up this week. And then we can get back to our usual recreating routine.

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