Pinetree Line

The Wrath of Mother Nature

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 document 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 Holberg, BC.

5 Dec 53 - Holberg, BC - 501 AW Squadron

Gales blew today, damaging roofs of the married quarters.

8 Dec 53 - Holberg, BC - 501 AW Squadron

Cpl. D Snow, carpenter from Station Sea Island, arrived to effect emergency repairs to roofs of PMQs damaged by gales.

9 Dec 53 - Holberg, BC - 501 AW Squadron

Cpl. Snow, carpenter, continued with repair work on roofs of PMQs.

10 Dec 53 - Holberg, BC - 501 AW Squadron

Work on repairs to roofs of PMQs continues.

11 Dec 53 - Holberg, BC - 501 AW Squadron

Very heavy winds in late afternoon playing havoc with roofs of PMQs.

3 Mar 56 - RCAF Station Holberg, BC

A violent snow storm developed today. This blizzard brought winds of Hurricane force and many windows in PMQs were reported blown in. The galvanized steel roofs of a few DCL huts used as civilian accommodation were lifted at the corners and ripped.

10 Feb 57 - RCAF Station Holberg, BC

Gale force winds, coupled with a power failure, resulted in the destruction of the radome. The power failure lasted only 26 minutes, but the unit was off the air until 5 Mar. The power failure resulted in the collapse of the main search radar bubble, and put the unit off the air from 100606Z Feb until 052228Z Mar.

10 Feb 57 - Holberg, BC - 53rd AC&W Squadron

A pressurized radome and the FPS-3 search radar antenna was blown completely off of the tower in late evening. 145 miles per hour winds were recorded. -- Wild Night at Holberg Radar Site

November, 1960 - RCAF Station Holberg, BC

The Radome on #1 Height Finder was installed in Nov 60, though extremely high winds damaged the Radome during construction. Construction of the second radome was delayed until more favorable weather conditions are present.

29 – 30 September 1962 – RCAF Station Holberg, BC

A prolonged period of extremely heavy rainfall during 29 and 30 Sep resulted in very extensive property damage and caused the death by drowning of an airman on strength of Station Holberg.

A major land slide and several small slides occurred on the road between the Operations Site and the Domestic Site on 30 Sep. The road sustained only slight damage but guard rails were extensively damaged. Access to the Operations Site was completely cut off. Vehicular traffic resumed on a restricted basis approximately 10 hours after the slides occurred. A restoration program was necessary to repair eroded road shoulders and surfaces on the six miles of road.

Damage of a more serious nature was caused by the rampaging Goodspeed River. The river flows parallel to the road between the Domestic Site and Holberg Dock. This road is the only thoroughfare between these points. The large volume of water changed the course of the river bed and completely washed away the road for a distance of approximately 300 feet. A shuttle service was set up between the Domestic Site and the washout with a similar arrangement between the washout and Holberg Dock. Passengers and freight were transported over the washed out portion of the road in a boatswain chair. Temporary road repairs began as soon as the flood waters receded to a level at which men and machines could work in safety. The job of reconstructing the damaged road bed required almost a month to complete. A bridge on the road to the dock was also heavily damaged and a construction crew from 2 CMU Calgary is expected to commence shoring the bridge and replacing damaged piles early in the new year.

During the morning of Sunday 30 Sep, one of the airmen from Station Holberg was seen in the area of the washout accompanied by his three dogs. When he failed to return home by late afternoon a ground search party was organized to search the heavily wooded surrounding area and the banks of the river downstream. The search continued through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A helicopter from 121 KU Vancouver joined the search but rain continued to fall intermittently and hampered the air search. By Thursday the level of the river reached a level which permitted a thorough search of the banks. Two members of the search party found the airman’s body at a point about two miles from where he is presumed to have fallen into the river.

3 Feb 63 – RCAF Station Holberg, BC

High winds and rain caused a small landslide and a few fallen trees to block the road to the Operations Site. Within a few hours the road was cleared, and traffic was resumed to normal.

5 Feb 63 – RCAF Station Holberg, BC

Due to heavy rains, the level of the Goodspeed River rose high enough to cause minor damages to part of the road between the dock and the station.

29 Oct 63 - RCAF Station Holberg

Three day BUIC Mode I manual operation conducted.

During the early hours of the morning, lightning struck the radome of tower #1 at the Operations Site, causing the following damage:

  1. six radome panels damaged.
  2. Main power cable burned out
  3. Filter assembly on IFF antenna damaged
  4. Many components were rendered unserviceable as a result of the lightning strike.

The lightning also disabled a main transformer supplying power to the FST-2. Manual operation was effected by jumping power wires to another transformer to supply power to the search radar proper. The replacement of the damaged transformer was effected within six days at which time the DMCC and FST-2 SAGE operation was resumed.

31 Oct 63 - RCAF Station Holberg, BC

Extremely high winds carried away one of the panels on tower #1 which had been damaged by lightning. Emergency repairs were made by the CE Section using plywood sheets to replace the missing panel.

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.