We passengers did our part, but the weather did not. Having suited up at the CDC at 6 A.M. with bags checked and boarding passes in hand, we learned that inclement weather had delayed our plane from leaving McMurdo to pick us up. By 11 A.M. the flight was cancelled altogether.
It was very frustrating, but we were warned that these things happen. And it was probably better than having taken off only to be forced back (“boomeranged”) just shy of McMurdo. That’s not uncommon given Antarctica’s swift and unpredictable weather patterns. The all-time record for consecutive unsuccessful attempts is seven, as explained in yesterday’s CDC video — a record, they added, that they’re not eager to break.
The next flight attempt is scheduled for January 1st. Our checked bags were all returned and our hotel rooms re-booked. New Year’s Eve, you could say, has boomeranged to Christchurch.
Before returning to town, I dropped by the International Antarctic Centre‘s visitor attraction across the campus. Its indoor Snow & Ice Experience is touted as the next best thing to actually being in the Great White South, and whether or not that’s true, I must say it gives Singapore’s Snow City (December 25 post) a run for its money.
Granted, the Snow & Ice Experience lacks a bunny slope, Ice Bar, and the essential Yeti. But these oversights are compensated for with a polar room that simulates an Antarctic tempest in dramatic fashion, complete with lightning, blizzard audio and and 25 mph (40 kph) winds. Jackets and shoe covers are provided for victims… er, visitors, but legs are on their own as seen in the photo.
Another room cycles through Antarctica’s four seasons in a matter of minutes, complete with a milder snowfall. Here’s part of that area during a calm summer moment.
Let’s hope it’s an omen for January 1st.