Watching the winds this morning was torturous. For the past few days, the forecast has painted today as the day that things would begin to calm down. That was not obvious this morning, as winds were still in the 25+ mph range, with gusts to 45 mph. Was the forecast a bust? It’s quite painful to sit in anticipation, but that was our only option. Around lunch time (19:30 on the picture below), the wind speeds finally started to decrease. While it remained quite gusty, by 1 pm or so Steve and I decided to give it a go.
We headed down to the end of the runway in order to get some profiles of the atmosphere. The basic idea is that we send the plane up and down in a fixed location in order to get an idea of the vertical structure and see how it is evolving over time. There were low clouds around at about 300 meters overhead, so we knew that while the winds were stronger up above than at the surface, we wouldn’t be going too high. In general, the DataHawks handled things well, despite the fact that at times it appeared as though they were not making much progress against the wind. However, in the end, we got approximately two hours of flight time in over three flights, collecting valuable measurements.
Tomorrow and beyond look really good, weather wise. Winds are forecast to continue dropping through the night, and we are supposed to have low cloud cover and some light snow for much of the day. This should make for some great conditions for sampling with the tethered balloon, and I look forward to coordinating efforts between the two platforms. Additionally, the winds of the last couple of days have removed quite a bit of heat from the upper ocean, and there is some ice starting to form along the coast. We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing more of this transition while we sample the atmosphere above it. With the science kicking into higher gear, it’s time to get as much out of the good weather as we can – we’re looking forward to it!