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afton 2/98 A severe winter storm hit western Virginia on February 4, 1998. Although the precipitation was in the form of rain for much of the state east of the Blue Ridge, the higher elevations east of the Ridge (such as our transmitter site serving Charlottesville) did receive quite a bit of sleet, snow and frozen rain.

This is a picture of the Blue Ridge near Afton 4 days after the storm. This ice, and some of the ice at the tower site, would likely be considered Rime Ice, although some tower site ice appears to be due more to frozen rain than frozen fog. Rime Ice is rare in Virginia, but quite common at Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Even two weeks later, much of the Shenandoah National Park remained closed.

powerline cut The powerline feeding the transmitter site comes straight up the mountain, and spans 1700 feet between poles. You can get an idea how steep the slope is by looking at the powerline visible in the picture. One does not walk down the slope; leaping would be a better description.

CVEC truck CVEC supplies power to the transmitter site. Here is a CVEC truck stopped while its crew chainsaws trees to gain access. Because of more pressing concerns (houses without power), CVEC could not get to the site until Thursday. The crew had worked almost non-stop for two days.

ice at top of line Note the powerline lying on the ground. CVEC still could not gain access to the top of the line on Friday, and finally brought a bulldozer in on Saturday. Power was restored late Saturday afternoon. This picture also shows the feathery nature of rime ice.

THE tree This is our engineer, William Fawcett, standing in front of the tree that felled our powerline. Dirt from the rootwad visible in the background was thrown over 10 feet by the violent upheaveal, caused by a combination of the weight of the ice, high winds, and super-saturated soil.

tower ice Once power was restored, and access to the site was possible, repairs had to be made to the antennas damaged on the ice-covered tower(photo 10K). Note the rime ice actually filled in the spaces between the diagonals on the tower. The antenna in the lower right suffered a bent boom and was pointing at the ground because of the sheer weight of the ice (photo 4K). Temporary repairs were finally made on Sunday afternoon, and service to Charolttesville was restored.

hunk-o-ice Because of falling ice chunks weighing 10 to 20 pounds, repairs to the antenna had to be carefully scheduled while temperatures were low. An adjacent building suffered extensive roof damage (photo 47K). All three of our antennas were further damaged on Monday, February 9th, when temperatures rose and large chunks began falling.

how 'bout that? Pretty amazing, huh? All told, we lost two antennas. We made final repairs to our main transmit antenna on March 27th (photo 18K).

wintergreen In spite of all the problems, our engineer does enjoy the scenery. Here we are looking from the site towards Wintergreen. While walking in to the site on February 5, our engineer saw 6 deer, 3 ruffed grouse, numerous turkey tracks, and a very large Bobcat (up close and personal). What a job!

All Photographs Copyright 1998 W. D. Fawcett

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