Seems several bloggers are writing or commenting on cold weather. Guess I will jump in.
After leaving the Army in 1966, I was determined to earn a pilot license. I tried to get in the Army aviation program but a couple of evaluation rides showed I was unlikely to become adept at hovering a helicopter. There were even fewer slots for fixed wing training.
While visiting my parents, I was alerted to a company conducting an experiment to see if seeding clouds would increase snowfall.
A component was a string of recording devices strung along thirty miles of the Continental Divide at 10,000 to 11,000 feet. They wanted local people who knew how to operate in harsh conditions as the equipment needed to be operational while it was snowing. One of the people hired along with me had been a year ahead of me in high school. In high school we loathed each other. A few years later our feeling hadn’t changed. That said, we both knew how to work and survive in blizzard conditions.
These storms could be intense. We used a snow cat to go from site to site. Often the visibility was so bad one of us would go ahead on cross country skis to find the way. The other would drive the machine following the skier. The temperature would always be below zero and the wind was gusting so hard the skier would nearly be blown over. We never calculated the wind chill. Fear!
The wonderful part of the job was I only was required to work when it was storming. That left clear days for flying. My father had always wanted to fly and we went in together on a 1939 Piper J-4, known in the family as the Puddy Four. We both got our Private rating in her. I went on to get a Commercial and Instrument rating. He later bought a Cessna 182.
This seeding experiment was a large effort. To the West on a high ridge was a decommissioned Nike Ajax radar setup for tracking the chaff filled weather balloons. Further East on a high peak was the seeders. Sodium iodine was mixed with acetone and fed into small fan devices with propane burners. During a storm, the burners would run for thirty minutes, shut down for thirty minutes, etc. The data from the recorders along the divide was analyzed to see if there was a pattern.
This project ran for four years. I don’t think anything was proved but the people doing it were meticulous in their efforts. As an aside, several marriages with local girls were a byproduct. Those long cold winter nights, don’t you know?
The time spent with the asshole from high school didn’t change our feeling towards each other. There was a mutual, if grudging, respect for each other’s skill set. Our literal survival depended on it. That job was far and away the most dangerous one I’ve done. As I understand, he worked there all four seasons. Tough man to be sure, but an asshole’s asshole. A good friend from high school who still lives in the area and is friendly with him assures me his feelings toward me are about the same. Oh well.