The Wrath of Mother Nature
It was not unusual to experience damage at Pinetree Line radar stations due to high winds. What is unusual is the apparent lack of a compiled documentation that provides details indicating "what happened, where, and when". This file contains a summary of "significant" Pinetree Line radar station "wind damage" that is known, and documented, to have occurred in Frobisher Bay, NWT.
The following detail has been taken from the Historical Records of Baffin Island Air Station.
1 January 1955 to 31 March 1955
A storm which occurred on 12-13 February disrupted power to the transmitter and receiver sites, and the water pumphouse. Automatic operation was resumed on 14 February after high winds and the storm had abated allowing the necessary repairs to be made. The same storm caused damage to the roofing of the Supply building and Air Installations building. Repairs of three hundred (300) feet and four hundred (400) feet were made to these buildings, respectively. New paper, nailed and tarred, was placed on the Supply roof. Temporary repairs, using lathing, were made on the Air Installations roof until weather permits the proper repairing.
1 April 1955 to 30 June 1955
In May, the roof at the dockside warehouse was torn off by high winds. It was anticipated that it would be replaced at an early date.
1 July 1955 to 30 September 1955
The roof on the dockside warehouse, which was blown off during a wind storm in May, was repaired in July.
1 October 1956 to 31 December 1956
The prime search radar (FPS-3C) was out for ten minutes on 31 December due to a change in pressure in the radome when the pressure glass blew in. Winds were recorded at 90 knots on that date. The same storm of 31 December caused serious damage to the walkway leading from the station to the Pole Vault site building. The communications cable, which furnished administrative telephone and teletype communications from this station, was broken during the storm. Since personnel and equipment were not available at the Station to repair this damage, an emergency repair team was immediately requested from 64th Air Division (Defense).
1 January 1958 to 31 March 1958
During February, sixty-four hours of off-time was credited to the AN/TPS-502 because of maintenance problems. Much of the lost time was due to high winds preventing personnel from entering the tower to work on the equipment.
1 January 1959 to 31 March 1959
Transmitters and Receivers were inoperative for 13 hours and 20 minutes in January due to a power failure. The power failure was traced to a short in the main power cable which occurred during a high wind condition. Snowfall during the reporting period was very limited; however, several periods of high winds accompanied by blowing snow and limited visibility were experienced. Winds were recorded up to 85 knots and for a period of four days beginning 18 February, roads to the lower base were closed to all traffic due to snow drifts and low visibility. The 51-Pair Communications Cable from the Squadron to the 1876th Radio Relay "Pole Vault" was replaced on 22 February. The original cable was shorted out inside the Radio Relay building by snow which had blown in during a high wind condition.
There is no doubt in my mind that there have been other examples of "significant" Pinetree Line "wind damage" which has taken place. As an example, I keep hearing about the Saglek situation – where their height finder was an apparent victim. This unit was located at the edge of a 1,800 foot cliff – so you can imagine the damage to any radar equipment that "went over the side". I continue to hope that some day, some one will provide some "official detail" – and then we will be able to add this occurrence to our list.
If you have any knowledge of other "significant" Pinetree Line "wind damage", please help us out and pass the detail to us – via an email message. Many thanks.