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And why doesn't it get dark? Turns out we were in the Land of the Midnight Sun and we had one long day where the sun never left the sky for a good month or more. Later, in December, we never saw the sun for a month or more and used flashlights to see where we were going. At this time we walked to the Weather Station up on a ridge overlooking the base camp.





Photo by Richard Rybak, WWII

Barracks at Sondrestrom during World War II. Note road to weather station and port in background.


After a month of tent living our wooden barracks at the airfield were finished and we happily moved in, A total of about twelve Weather personnel, These barracks were tied down with cables running over the roof and the reason will come later. Now we had to drive nine miles to work and our transportation was a beat-up 1937 Ford Station Wagon. It had lousy steering and our Weather Officer quickly got us a Jeep and a Weapons Carrier, which was like trading in the Ford for a Cadillac.


Our job was to make weather observations every hour around the clock. Wind Direction and Speed, Temperature, Dew Point, Barometric Pressure, Clouds and any weather condition going on at that time. All the data was transcribed into a numerical form and then coded for transmission. All weather information from other stations had to be decoded and plotted on a map every six hours so that our Forecasting Officer could draw a Synoptic Map. This told us what was going on at Reykiavik, BW-1, Goose Bay, Gander and the eastern States. Tough drawing a map with so little data in our region. Weather reports from ships at sea where always questionable.

We made Winds Aloft observations using a Theodolite to follow a balloon using the Azimuth and Elevation Vernier knobs. A little tough to do in the cold and gloves on. A reading was made every minute and communicated by microphone to a Plotter inside. This was then converted into the wind direction and speed at various altitudes. We normally quit when we got to 20,000 feet.

One nice sunny day I was balancing a balloon for the proper lift using a brass petcock to get the balance. The balloon in perfect suspension was the objective and you had to release it to check it out. The balloon got away from me, almost perfectly balanced, and proceeded down the hill, across the road and then started to climb up the other slope. I fixed up another balloon and proceeded to make the observation. Little did I know, as I found out later, that I gave an Artillery guy on guard duty a little scare. He saw this "thing" coming at him and ran down to the main camp to report it. There sure was a buzz in camp when we went down for lunch.

The weather at BW 8 had some real extremes. From nice days in summer reaching temperatures in the sixties to the minus sixty degrees I read making an observation. The cold was really not too bad. The secret was many layers of loose clothing, a head mask, mittens (not finger gloves) and no tight fitting shoes such as the high top issue. Someone sent me a pair of fleece lined ankle high slippers and these with a pair of wool socks into the rubber arctic boots was like toast. One weather phenomena was the sudden surge of wind coming off the ice cap. Like an explosion and the wind could come in at 100MPH. That's the reason for the cables over the barracks. Another was the Aurora Borealis which were colorful gases floating in the atmosphere. It was eerie and you felt you could reach up and touch it.

Almost forgot. Wearing coveralls was not the thing to do. When mother nature called it was not to smart to be sitting on that hole in the wooden seat in the outhouse half naked.





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