When I left St. George two months ago I knew I would be coming back. We had placed three acoustic doppler current profilers (ADCPs) on the seafloor to measure currents and wave heights. But recovering the ADCPs in mid-November in the Bering Sea would be difficult; we might have to wait weeks for a good weather window. So when we retrieved all three ADCPs in one afternoon the day after landing in St. George I felt like we had pulled off some sort of miracle, and in a way we did. I downloaded the data from the ADCPs and can see that this was the first extended period of calm weather in St. George since they equipment was deployed.
Weather in the Bering Sea in November can be downright frightful. You probably have seen an episode of the show Deadliest Catch and know that this is not a place for casual boating, in fact the seas are so violent that the fisherman in St. George cannot leave their boats in the water as they would be destroyed by the surge that can exceed 5 feet IN THE HARBOR.
This year was no exception, and during the first week of November a huge storm rolled through as if right of cue. This was NOAA's weather synopsis on November 5th:
Synopsis...A HURRICANE FORCE 951 MB LOW 380 NM WEST OF SAINT PAUL WEAKENS TO 956 MB AS IT MOVES NORTH TO FAR EASTERN RUSSIA WED NIGHT BEFORE SLOWLY WEAKENING THROUGH THU NIGHT.
Winds gusts were forecasted to reach as high as 75mph and seas could build to as big at 25ft. That sounds scary, but what is really scary is this. Our ADCP located approximately one mile off the coast from St. George recorded a significant wave height of 32 feet and a maximum wave height on November 7th of 48 feet! I can't even image what a 48 foot wave looks like, nor do I have any desire to see a 48 foot wave.
Now with our equipment packed it’s just a matter of getting off the island. Our flight yesterday was canceled due to strong crosswinds at the airport so we are booked to depart on Friday. I guess it’s time to get caught up with things like organizing photos on my computer and writing on the blog.
|Jason and I exploring the island|
|Our equipment is packed and ready for shipment. We don't travel light, those big totes weigh about 200Lbs each.|
|One of the ADCPs after retrieving it from the seafloor.|