South Dakota Broadcasters Keeping Eye on Weekend Weather
The city of Sioux Falls continues to rally and recover from a monumental ice storm this week and it looks like we have at least one more hurdle to clear before we start the real work of cleanup. Fridays wind (which is expected to pick up) is one thing homeowners with downed (and dangling) trees will be keeping a close eye on. Radio stations and other media outlets, television, cell phone towers and other electronic types will be watching and reacting to the weather as well.
Dan Collins spoke with Todd Heitkamp of the National Weather Service
Thursdays weather offered 'some' relief by warming up and hovering around an even freezing all day. This is helpful, because a quick warm up can sometimes complicate already complex problems.
In talking with Results Radio Chief Engineer Mike Langford:
Many times the real problems come, not from trees and structures icing up, but when the sun comes out and starts thawing things out. Many times it causes an imbalance, that along with a little wind can get things moving. Sometimes that moving is in the wrong direction and things come down.
The ice just complicates so many things. Many broadcast outlets send signals to their broadcast towers with an STL (Studio Transmitter Link) and many of these important cogs in a broadcast operation can be easily compromised with a coating of ice. And the ice coming down is another thing. There are chunks of ice that when falling from hundreds of feet can easily do even more damage, especially to additional equipment that also hangs -lower-on the antenna structure.
Kickin' Country has been relatively lucky so far, we had just a brief power outage that was rectified quickly. (Note, Kickin' Country's tower is fortunately located where it is 'the first in line after a substation which insures we are always one of the first to get our power restored)
If you look at a standard radio tower, you see the broadcast bays at the top. The transmission lines which carry the radio signal to the bays come down the tower. You might also see receiving dishes for STL's as well. When thick ice starts falling off a structure like this it can damage and compromise a radio stations ability to stay on the air.
I don't know a lot about it, but I've been around enough to know that if you take one link out of the puzzle due to icing, or damage from falling ice, the balance can be upset and engineers find themselves looking for alternate ways to keep a radio station on the air.
One of the things about this ice storm I find intriguing is how the cell phone coverage has been pretty good. I haven't heard a word from people saying they are having issues around the Sioux Falls area. Today, as the winds pick up as they are forecast to do, you can bet Cell Engineers will be keeping a close eye on the weather as they continue restorative and preventative work.
We live in a society where, we turn it on, and it works. It works for a reason. It works because someone somewhere is either hauling out of bed at odd hours of the day (almost every day) and putting in incredible hours during times like these.
In the meantime, we'll keep doing what we do, on the air here at Kickin' Country and on-line at KIKN.com and with social media of Facebook and Twitter. Know though, that there's a lot more to it, than 'us back here, just flipping on a switch or two.' Know also, that we're saving up to buy our engineers breakfast sometime soon.
For the time being, Kickin' Country is on the air. God willing we will make it through this storm completely. And the next one too.