Assessments underway on towers toppled by ice, tornadoes

Originally published in Current, March 12, 2007

Broadcasting towers in Iowa and southern Georgia were toppled by extreme weather conditions, disrupting Iowa Public Radio’s KHKE classical service to Cedar Falls and Waterloo and broadcasts from Georgia Public Broadcasting’s WACS-TV in Dawson.

Neither station will return to full service in the near future, but KHKE is sending a low-power signal from an antenna atop a building at the University of Northern Iowa, according to Wayne Jarvis, g.m. of KHKE/KUNI and director of IPR network operations.

Last month’s blizzard blasted northeastern Iowa with 40 mph winds and coated it with ice. “Hundreds of power poles were split in half, and dozens of communities were without power for almost a week,” Jarvis said. “We’ve not seen an event like this in almost a quarter of a century.” 

Portions of KHKE’s 400-foot tower were coated with two inches of ice when it toppled Feb. 24, Jarvis said. The transmitter and other equipment may have been damaged as well. Engineers haven’t been able to fully assess the damage because power hasn’t been restored to the site. Jarvis plans to seek emergency aid from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

In Georgia, GPB engineers are also assessing damages. A tornado toppled the 1,000-foot WACS transmission tower March 2, knocking it into the transmitter building, according to Mandy Wilson, spokeswoman. Only 100 feet of the tower, constructed in 1966, remains standing.

GPB had previously received PTFP funding for digital conversion of WACS, and the tower and transmission building were insured, Wilson said. “Until we know the firm costs of the building and reconstruction, we won’t apply for the additional funding,” she said. 

Web page posted Feb. 21, 2008
Copyright 2007 by Current Publishing Committee

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