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 St. Anthony, NF.
The following detail has been taken from the Historical Records of St. Anthony Air Station.
1 January 1955 to 31 March 1955
On 14 March a wind storm of more-than-ordinary violence began. The wind blew in gusts up to 124 miles per hour at the main site, and the radar had to be shut down for 26 hours. The damage was considerable. The two biggest items were the loss of the 300 foot LF tower and the damaging of an H-21 helicopter, which was blown on its side.
1 January 1956 to 31 March 1956
On 16 January "Old Man Winter" unleashed his worst blow of the year, to date. Freezing rain and wind ripped at outside plant facilities for approximately 72 hours, causing extensive damage to all communications antenna systems. All HF antennas were downed and all UHF receiving antennas were lost. Other antennas were damaged slightly and required minor repairs. In the HF system, two 60 foot poles (both center poles in the doublet, dual diversity arrangement) were lost completely. Rehabilitation of the antenna systems was accomplished mutually by three members of the 1st Communications Construction Flight who were on TDY to this station and a two man rigging team from the Marconi Depot. The Marconi team arrived on 1 February.
The greatest single loss during the January storm was that of the 300 foot tower supporting the low frequency vertical radiator. The tower collapsed for the second time within the period of a year. Cause of the collapse was heavy ice loading and moderate winds.
1 October to 31 December 1958
High winds blew the cover off of a line transformer. High winds, blowing snow, and cold weather hampered repair operations.
1 January 1960 to 31 March 1960
Severe weather conditions on several occasions created some difficulty in transportation, loss of HF antenna and on one instance loss of prime power to both the transmitter and the receiver sites. The telephone cables to the transmitter and the receiver site buildings were relashed and, in some areas, lowered by Marconi Depot personnel. This should reduce some of the wind damage to the lashing that had previously been experienced.
1 January 1965 to 31 March 1965
During January, the Mobile Maintenance Team made emergency repairs to nearly 15,000 feet of overhead electrical distribution lines which were destroyed by a severe ice storm. Extreme icing was experienced in January breaking one AS-1097 antenna, the mobile radio antenna and the EPA radio antennas. Serious damage occurred to the walls and ceiling on the new Multi-Purpose recreation building during February when snow was apparently blown through the 1 1/2" vent slot under the roof eaves. The contractor was directed to remove the snow and close the vents with a special metal strip fastened to the soffit by self tapping screws. During March, the Mobile Maintenance Team accomplished emergency repairs on 17,000 feet of line which was damaged by severe icing.
1 April 1967 to 30 June 1967
On 24 June 1967, a lightning storm came through the tech load transformer and the result was a power outage. The transformer was damaged. The Communications and Elelctronics section condemned three UHF and one VHF antennas as a result of damage caused by high winds. Plans are initiated to consider having radios and antennas in the FPS-6 tower.
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.