July 21, 1912: Wind and calm at Commonwealth Bay

–from Douglas Mawson’s account “The Home of the Blizzard”–

There was much expected of july, but the wind soughed on and the temperature decreased.  Just to demonstrate its resource, the wind maintained ninety-seven miles per hour for six hour on July 19, while the puffanemometer indicated several “breaks” of one hundred fifty miles per hour.

“July 21 was cold, calm, and clear.  For the first time after many weeks the sun was mildly warm, and all felt with a spring of optimism that a new era had begun.  The sea which had been kept open by the wind was immediately overspread with thin, dark ice, whihc in a few hours was dotted with many ice-flowers–rosette-like aggregates of fern-like, sprouting fronds.  Soon the surface had whitened and by next morning was firm enough to hold a man out beyond the nearest island.  The wind did not allow this state of affairs to last for long, for by lunch-time it had hurried away the floe-ice and raged across a foaming sea.”

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