Weather Blog

There's exclusive clubs, then there's the South Pole's "300 Club"

There's exclusive clubs, then there's the South Pole's "300 Club"

Dr. Dale Ireland, he of the Silverdale time lapse videos we feature frequently here, has a friend spending the Southern Hemisphere winter working down at the South Pole station.

He recently forwarded an e-mail talking about the extreme weather down there of late, saying it was nearly -82F at the start of May, but was a relatively balmy -40 a few days earlier.

"Warm weather usually means bad weather, storm and low visibility. Cold weather is much nicer, since it's cold anyway, but no wind bugs you," he wrote.

But that's nothing compared to what happened in April -- their coldest on record. They had an average temperature of -80.7, and the temperature even dropped below -100 -- the second earliest time in the season they've dropped below triple digits.

So, what to do when it's that cold outside? Why, join one of the most elite clubs in existence -- the 300 Club.

They heat up their sauna to 200 degrees, then run outside in the -100 degree weather, sans clothing, to the south pole, becoming one of the very few people on Earth to experience a 300 degree temperature change. They then hastily retreat to the sauna to warm back up again (with the help of a little scotch.) He says eight men and women took part this year, including himself, and he now has a very nice patch to commemorate his insanity.

Not sure if that's more or less preferable than the military's Crossing The Line ceremony when you cross the equator on a ship. For one, I think induction into the 300 Club is a lot quicker.

But when they are not running around freezing themselves, they do occasionally get a really nice view. The photo above is of the aurora australis, or the "Southern Lights"; the opposite of our "Northern Lights". This photo was taken during a strong geomagnetic storm in early May that spread aurora displays across much of the globe.

(Here is a larger version of the "Southern Lights" photo:)