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Blizzard Potential chart for 0300UTC March 3rd..
Image by Canadian Ice Service courtesy Trudy Wohlleben, SOURCE
Wing Commander Matt Stowers.
courtesy Matthew Stowers, SOURCE
Wing Commander Matt Stowers.
courtesy Matthew Stowers, SOURCE
Flight Lieutenant Kev O’Brien.
courtesy Kevin O Brien, SOURCE
Flight Lieutenant Kev O’Brien.
courtesy Kevin O Brien, SOURCE

1996 Magnetic North Pole ski: RAF Matt Stowers and Kev O'Brien start delayed by blizzard

Posted: Mar 04, 2013 08:23 pm EST
(Newsdesk) In the 2011 Arctic ski season the RAF team, Matthew Stowers and Jules Weeks, was one of the teams who decided to abandon their expedition before getting to their start point at the most northern coast of Canada because of a too long weather delay in Resolute Bay.

Matt and Jules thereafter decide to ski to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole in Canada. Unfortunately they had to abandon that attempt as well because Jules had sustained cold injuries to his thumb and a number of fingers on his right hand.

Now Matt is back in Resolute Bay, this time with team mate Kevin O'Brien. Matt told ExplorersWeb they are using this trip as a rehearsal for next year when he plans on trying the Geographic North Pole again. "We will be an independent group. The plan is to practise and test kit for next year."

Winds greater than 60 km/h, gusts reaching 100 km/h

Matt and Kev have arrived in Resolute on March 1st, but a blizzard has delayed the intended start date. They were hoping to begin their expedition to the 1996 Magnetic North Pole on Sunday, March 3. By Saturday evening, winds had increased to greater than 60 km/h, with gusts reaching 100 km/h, Trudy Wohlleben from Canadian Ice Service told ExplorersWeb, and heavy snow and blowing snow was being reported (see image on the left of the Environment Canada experimental Blizzard Potential chart for 0300UTC Sunday).

Heat and moisture through the cracks in the mobile pack ice

Matt and Kev initially delayed their start to Monday, March 04, but have now delayed one day further, until Tuesday, March 05. Although conditions have improved, all the recent snow on the ground and continuing moderate easterly winds are continuing to produce blowing snow and reduced visibilities.

Additionally, even though the Low to the south of Resolute Bay has weakened, because the winds are from the east, they are still drawing heat and moisture from the ocean through the cracks in the mobile pack ice in Lancaster Sound, which is fuelling the development of low cloud and snow over Resolute Bay.

On a positive note, said CIS, the lee side of Cornwallis Island (along the intended route) will actually be somewhat sheltered during the next couple of days. If the team can make their way out of the Resolute Bay area and into McDougall Sound, conditions should improve.

Biographies courtesy of their website:

Wing Commander Matt Stowers was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1970 and was educated at a number of schools in both Devon and Cornwall. Leaving school at 19, Matt decided to join the Royal Air Force as a Regiment Officer. Having completed his training he was posted to Number II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, the Corp’s only parachute capable unit, as a flight commander. He has subsequently served on Number II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment as both the Deputy Squadron Commander and the Squadron Commander. Other postings include instructing on Initial Officer Training and a number of staff appointments. Matt has served on operations around the world more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. Matt is currently serving at Royal Air Force Brize Norton as Officer Commanding Number 4 Royal Air Force Protection Wing.

Flight Lieutenant Kev O’Brien was born in Leicester in 1967. Joining the Royal Air Force from School he has had a varied career within the Royal Air Force Regiment serving on various units including Number II Squadron (where he first met Matt). He has operated all over the world in both training and Operational roles, ranging from teaching Trainee Royal Air Force Regiment Gunners, various Royal Air Force Regiment Field Squadron appointments and a number of tours with the Army. Commissioned in 2006, Kev has most recently served in Afghanistan as Second in Command of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Read more about the team here

1996 Position of the Magnetic North Pole:
78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11'54.00"W

Resolute Bay:
74° 41.808N, 094° 49.402W

All the skiers who had planned to ski from Canada (Ward Hunt Island or Cape Discovery) to the Geographic North Pole (90°N) have confirmed to ExplorersWeb that they are not going this year.


This expedition (and other expeditions/ adventures/ projects with RSS feeds) can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone/iPad and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.

ExplorersWeb Expedition List

Previous - All 2011 ski teams abort expeditions from Canada to Geographic North Pole (90°N)

Previous - 2011 North Pole ski update: Ben Saunders ready to go; RAF evacuated

Previous - 2013 North Pole skiers thwarted by 2012 record minimum sea ice

RAF Northern Exposure website

RAF Northern Exposure 2013 blog

Weather links courtesy of Canadian Ice Service:

The Arctic Weather products link on the Canadian Ice Service IPY Legacy page

Two-day sea ice drifts for the whole Arctic Ocean on the Danish DMI website

Other weather links:

Canadian Ice Service

Canada Weather Office satellite image

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory



#Polar