Saturday, February 25, 2017

Clouds near South American coast

After the smoothest crossing of the Drake passage we got into the islands of Terra del Fuego. On top of spectacular island views we got to see some amazing clouds.
First, there was a rainbow and a rather typical layer of low level stratus clouds:

Somehow it cleared up to reveal the blue sky and blue sea made its appearance as well.

The boundary between the two was rather dramatic:

Amazingly this kind of situations we later observed in Punta Arenas again. We were sitting a cafe and it was raining and gloomy on one side and clear and sunny on the other side - adjacent corner windows depicted a completely opposite view.

Coming back to our first sighting of Terra del Fuego a few days back - after dinner the clouds changed dramatically. I went outside and saw "mammatus clouds" - my first real-life mamma clouds! I only saw them in textbooks before:

These clouds are formed by powerful downdrafts, when pockets of cold (but moist) air sink down to the lower parts of the clouds. This is the reverse motion to the "usual" upward direction of convection - when warm and moist air rises.

As I write this, we have started the leg three already. I had a few days in Punta Arenas, which I used to:
~walk on land (rain or shine or both at the same time)
~touch "Terra del Fuego's foot to make sure to come back
~drive to the tip of the continent and visit Magellan park and the old (reconstructed) settlement called Fuerte Bulnes. Driving was quite interesting as I realized that after the two ports with left-side driving I was totally confused on which side of the road to use. But I figured it out quite fast and it was good to have Irina with me for safety checks every now and then. South Africa will be weird again ;)
~eat a lot of real deserts
~drink a few pisco sours that knocked me off my feet
~spent some time updating facebook - it felt so weird! It seems like a waste of time, but it was so great to connect with some of my friends.

We also collectively managed to purchase additional Helium for the radiosondes. Many thanks to Guisella, our Chilean friend from leg two and her friends. We could have not done it without you! I also want to thank Irina and Alex for giving me some time off while they went to pick up the bottles. It was so amazing to aimlessly walk around the city without a plan or a "sample alarm" to comply with. Felt weird and so-so great. It was an interesting experience, a preview of the "post-cruise" life. As we are starting the final leg of the journey I keep thinking how will it feel to be back on land. It is hard to predict really.

Anyhow, our leg three has started and I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day!

Thanks for reading.

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