FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 26, 2010: It's minus 40 C, that's right, –40 C (and –40 F, it happens to be where the two temperature ranges meet). Heat gun in hand, Tom Lehman and Andy Havens trudge out through the snow, not an inch of skin exposed. One does the wiring (carefully—copper wires snap easily at –40) and the other one holds the heat gun—aimed at the hands of the other. And so goes "just another installation" of an AWOS by Coastal.
Stony Rapids, in the Saskatchewan province of Canada, was recently the site for an AWOS installation. The weather station was installed at the town's airport runway, part of NAV CANADA's network. This site was unique, not because of the extreme sub-zero temperatures (many NAV CANADA sites easily reach those temperatures), but because Coastal did the install in DECEMBER. Strict regimens had to be followed as to the time spent outdoors to make sure body temperatures were not dropping too rapidly and to avoid frostbite, which is a real danger for any skin exposed more than 20 minutes. Installer Andy Havens said it was a "rude awakening" for him when he hopped off the plane in jeans and a light jacket. The cold hit him like a slap in the face.
The installation of the weather station itself would have been routine (as this is number 20 out of 85), but the climate conditions kept the install crew on its toes. When it is this cold, it doesn't snow because of lack of moisture in the air. Your main concerns are high speed winds and being so cold it's hard to focus on your work. Working in extremely cold climates is nothing new for Coastal, as they have already installed stations at the South Pole and are reported to have more ice stations operating in the Antarctic, Arctic, Alaska and now Canada, than any other company in the world. These stations are specifically designed to handle these harsh climates and operate with very little maintenance.
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