10 Abandoned Weather Stations & Meteorological Facilities of the World

krenkel-station-franz-josef-land-abandoned-3 (Image: Russell Scott Images)

In our quest to understand the world around us, we humans have gone to some pretty remote places. Places so far from light or the internet or human contact that they could well be on another planet. In no branch of science is that more true than meteorology. Over the years, numerous weather research facilities have been built in the deserted wastes of our world and then abandoned to the elements. By turns sad, creepy and strangely-inspiring, they show just how far our species is willing to push itself in the name of science. This article documents just 10 of those abandoned weather stations and meteorological facilities, though there are sure to be many more.

Isachsen (Canada)

Isachsen-abandoned-weather-station

Isachsen-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Images: Derrick Midwinter)

Many thousands of miles north of Toronto sits the sad ruin of what was once Canada’s most-inaccessible weather station. Opened in spring of 1948, Isachsen Station was a joint American-Canadian posting seemingly designed to test Air Force personnel to their limits. The weather was the worst in North America, with temperatures routinely plummeting to -51C in winter. From October till February there was no sunlight. Conditions were so harsh the only plant life growing there was lichen. Today, no humans live in the vicinity at all.

Isachsen-abandoned-weather-station-4 (Image: Randy Dueck)

At the height of its powers, Isachsen was home to a mere eight people. In our hyper-connected modern world, it’s hard to imagine the isolation they endured. Flights were scheduled twice a year to bring supplies and replacement recruits. A few ships strayed through the ice in summer. Beyond that… nothing. Between September and March you wouldn’t see another human being. When budget cuts closed Isachsen in 1978, you could almost hear Canada’s meteorologists breathe a sigh of relief.

Isachsen-abandoned-weather-station-3 (Images: Derrick Midwinter)

Today, Isachsen is little more than a dirt runway, a collection of rusted huts and the remains of a wrecked plane – a C-47 Skytrain that crashed on takeoff on October 9, 1949. An eerie monument to what was once the loneliest Air Force posting of all.

Mount Fuji (Japan)

mount-fuji-abandoned-weather-station-4 (Image: Oz)

Towering so high into the sky it can be seen even from Tokyo (100km away) Mount Fuji is a potent symbol of Japanese culture. Its lonely weather research station is no less important. Perched directly on the summit, exposed to biting winds and blistering cold, it marks one of the harshest places in Japan to record weather data.

mount-fuji-abandoned-weather-station (Image: Pattern Interrupt – Twitter @GeistWorks)

The first attempt came in 1895, when Itaru Nomaka and his wife Chiyoko built a temporary station there for the winter. They lasted until the December 22nd before their friends had to stage a daring rescue mission. A few years later, Satō Junichi decided to give it a try. He made it until February, although his frostbite was so bad it very nearly cost him his fingers. It wasn’t until around 1932 that the Imperial government succeeded in finally establishing the weather station, which then lasted all the way through till 2004.

mount-fuji-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Image: Pattern Interrupt – Twitter @GeistWorks)

Even today, in an age when Mount Fuji is summited by roughly 250,000 climbers every single year, the weather station still looks impossibly remote. Perhaps lured in by this sense of beautiful isolation, a number of researchers are now campaigning to have it reopened on a permanent basis.

Tayport (Scotland)

tayport-abandoned-weather-station (Image: Leighton Pritchard)

Compared to the Arctic Circle or the top of a mountain, Tayport (near Dundee) could only be considered remote if you’ve never left the confines of the M25. Yet there’s no doubt its ruined station is strangely haunting. Standing inside on a foggy fall morning, you may even feel like you’re the last person left on earth.

tayport-abandoned-weather-station-3

tayport-abandoned-weather-station-4 (Images: Christopher Gillan; Karen Vernon)

Understood to have been first used by the RAF, the abandoned weather station at Tayport was constructed during World War Two, alongside two beach-facing concrete pillboxes designed to keep marauding Germans at bay. When the expected invasion never happened, Tayport was slowly wound down, until the RAF at last abandoned it altogether. Taken over by the UK’s Met Office, it operated as a regular weather station from 1981 to 1992 before finally being abandoned again – this time for good.

tayport-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Image: Stuart Anthony)

Today, the site is empty and eerie; a wasteland of concrete, graffiti and rust. Photos taken in 2011 show a site left to go wild. With coastal erosion causing problems along this stretch of coastline, it may not be much longer before the Tayport station vanishes altogether.

Krenkel Station (Franz Josef Land, Russia)

krenkel-station-franz-josef-land-abandoned (Image: Russell Scott Images)

Stranded above the great Siberian wilderness, Franz Josef Land is so painfully remote almost nobody has heard of it. Separated from Russia itself by vast tracts of icy sea, the archipelago is brutally cold and utterly desolate. In an average year, the summer temperature doesn’t rise above a measly 2.1C. In winter, it plunges to a terrifying -44C. At the very north of this isolated lump of rock, cut off even from the rest of Franz Josef Land, sits Krenkel Station.

krenkel-station-franz-josef-land-abandoned-2 (Image: Russell Scott Images)

Once home to hundreds and sprawling over many hectares, Krenkel Station is now largely abandoned, although a tiny number of staff still operates out of a handful of buildings. Mostly, though, it’s been left to the elements. Broken wooden huts sit silent and empty, waiting to collapse under the next snowfall. A wrecked cargo plane turns to dust on the edges of the ocean. The landscape is a mixture of mud, discarded machinery and broken oil drums.

krenkel-station-franz-josef-land-abandoned-5 (Image: Russell Scott Images)

The effect is overwhelming, intoxicating. Looking on the ruins of Krenkel is like looking at the end of the world; a future where all hope has been washed away, and the past left to rust.

Teriberka, Kola Peninsula (Russia)

Teriberka-abandoned-weather-station (Image: Ivan Gushchin)

If you want to feel like the last human left on earth, you could do worse than taking a trip to Teriberka. A frozen village in Russia’s European north, Teriberka is a world apart from Moscow and St Petersburg – a land of no jobs, few families, and no hope.

Teriberka-abandoned-weather-station-3 (Image: Ivan Gushchin)

A large percentage of the town’s buildings are both abandoned and rotting away. There are holes in the pier, overturned cars on the streets, and a boat graveyard frozen in the ice. Daylight is a rarity, and the major commodity seems to be despair.

Teriberka-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Image: Ivan Gushchin)

At the top of it all sits the abandoned meteorological station. A simple wooden shack that closed up long ago, the station is now in the process of falling to pieces, its decay closely mirroring that of the town around it. Windows are boarded off, beams rotting through, and the entire building seems to sag with hopelessness.

Teriberka-abandoned-weather-station-4 (Image: Ivan Gushchin)

Hard information is difficult to come by, but it appears to have been empty for a long time – probably since the town’s economy collapsed in the 1960s. With Teriberka itself close to becoming a ghost town, it’s hard to imagine the station surviving even as a ruin in a few decades time.

Weather Station Kurt (Labrador, Canada)

abandoned-weather-station-kurt-hutton-peninsula-2 (Image: Canadian National Archives)

By 1943, when World War Two was in full-swing, bombs were dropped across Europe, boats were sunk in the Atlantic and the war was beginning to turn to the Allies’ advantage. Integral to this was the accurate reporting of weather. Good forecasting allowed for stealth bombing runs hidden by cloud and the preparation of key battles. Bad forecasting meant handing the enemy the advantage. It was against this peculiar backdrop that Weather Station Kurt was erected in Canada.

Marked as the property of the ‘Canadian Meteor Service’, and consisting of a single antenna, Kurt was in reality something much more sneaky. Shipped over from Germany in the hold of a U-Boat, the station represented the only successful German military operation on North American land in the whole of World War Two. Designed to look like an Allied unit, Kurt was secretly broadcasting signals back to Berlin, giving the Nazis an edge in the weather war.

abandoned-weather-station-kurt-hutton-peninsula-3 (Image: Bundesarchiv)

When Nazi Germany fell in 1945, Kurt was quickly forgotten. Yet it kept on transmitting, right until its rediscovery in 1977. By that time Kurt was lonely, forgotten, rusted and unloved. Today, it resides in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa – the living legacy of a strange period in our last world war.

Hemsby Station (Norfolk, England)

hemsby-abandoned-weather-station-norfolk (Image: Lordspudz)

Unlike most on our list, there’s nothing remote about Hemsby Station. Situated eight miles north of Great Yarmouth, it’s practically cosmopolitan. Yet its abandonment and decay is just as strange and sad as anywhere in the Arctic Circle.

hemsby-abandoned-weather-station-norfolk-3 (Image: Lordspudz)

Originally used to supply shipping forecasts, Hemsby Station only closed its doors in 2001. In that short space of time, though, it’s fallen into complete ruin. Paint flakes off the once-white buildings, the roofs have all caved in, and graffiti now loops crazily across the inside walls. In some sections the destruction is so total it looks like the aftermath of a bombing. Whole chunks of building are missing. Machinery lies broken on the floors. It’s the very definition of ‘desolate.’

hemsby-abandoned-weather-station-norfolk-2 (Image: Lordspudz)

No automated system has arisen to take its place. No group campaigning for its preservation has emerged from the shadows. Hemsby Station may be slap bang in the middle of civilization, but it’s many miles from the public consciousness. Proof that you don’t need to venture to the edges of the earth to experience an unnatural sense of isolation.

Mould Bay Weather Station (Prince Patrick Island, Canada)

mould-bay-abandoned-weather-station (Image: Jean-Marc Robert – website: JMR-ART.com)

First built in the 1940s, Mould Bay Station was finally abandoned in 1997 as automated systems took over. Unfortunately, the lack of human inhabitants meant something else moved in too. In 2009, Mould Bay was named a ‘toxic ghost town’ due to the lethal levels of dangerous mould that had consumed every building. Best estimates suggest it would cost over $10m to clean up – something that seems unlikely to ever happen.

mould-bay-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Image: Jean-Marc Robert – website: JMR-ART.com)

Not that anyone would ever want to work there again. Mould Bay is horrifyingly remote, even in a country that boasts a mere 3.6 people for every square kilometre. In the depths of winter, wind chill can drive the temperature down to -70C. Although it’s based on one of the largest islands in Canada, the nearest human settlement is still many hundreds of miles away.

mould-bay-abandoned-weather-station-3 (Image: Jean-Marc Robert – website: JMR-ART.com)

With all that in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise no-one has yet come to clear Mould Bay up. Instead, the abandoned weather station stands in all its toxic glory, too dangerous to be knocked down, too useless to be repurposed.

Ambarchik Bay Station (Russia)

Ambarchik-Bay-abandoned-weather-station (Image: PoohE via Wikimapia)

The 2010 census tells you all you need to know about Ambarchik Bay in Russia. From a small but sustainable village in the 19th and 20th centuries, Ambarchik’s population had dwindled to a mere four people. Believe it or not, this was an increase. In 2002, the census had recorded a population of literally zero.

Ambarchik-Bay-abandoned-weather-station-2 (Image: astat via Wikimapia)

Perhaps it’s not surprising Ambarchik fell on such hard times. During the Stalin years, it was used as a forced labour camp that saw hundreds detained. In World War Two it was attacked by the Germans. In the decades after the war, it experienced total economic collapse. The surprise with Ambarchik is not that there are only four people left. It’s that there are any left at all.

Ambarchik-Bay-abandoned-weather-station-3 (Image: VitYasik via Wikimapia)

Originally built in 1935, the meteorological station is no more or less-abandoned than the rest of the town. Sitting at the top of a crest above the ocean, its radio antenna still sticking forlornly into the air, the station is a ruin among ruins. Do those remaining four people ever wander through its empty rooms? We couldn’t say. Somehow, the fact a handful remain here is an even-more melancholy thought than if Ambarchik had been abandoned entirely.

Former Kiska Station (Kiska Island)

kiska-island-weather-station-abandoned (Image: Alaska State Library/Alaska’s Digital Archives via Gizmodo)

Formerly the site of a small American weather station, the impossibly remote Kiska Island was also home to one of the strangest battles of World War Two. On June 6, 1942, 1,200 Japanese troops stormed the island with the intention of defeating its American occupants. And defeat them they did. Only ten men and three dogs were based at the now-abandoned weather station, all of whom were immediately overpowered. With the island and station now theirs, the Japanese sat down and waited for the Americans to counterattack. And waited. And waited.

kiska-island-weather-station-abandoned-2 (Image: Alaska State Library/Alaska’s Digital Archives via Gizmodo)

Finally, in August 1943, 35,000 Allied soldiers landed on Kiska to retake the station. They stormed the beaches in thick fog, ran into the undergrowth, sprayed bullets wildly. There were explosions. Screams. Bloodshed. And then they discovered something unexpected. The Japanese had already abandoned the station.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island (Image: Photorator)

Needed elsewhere in the war effort, the Imperial Army had ditched Kiska weather station and headed off to another island. The explosions the Allied troops had heard were the landmines they’d left behind. The screams had been their own comrades accidentally stepping into the line of fire. Overall, 100 Allied troops lost their lives on Kiska… likely the highest casualty count for an abandoned weather station in history.

Related – 10 Remote Abandoned Research Stations of the Antarctic

 
 


 
 
 

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