Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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February 19, 2003 WVAH Tower Collapse

UPDATE: October 9, 2004 - Construction has been completed on a new tower replacing the fallen WVAH structure at the WCHS tower site on Coal Mountain. [ Full story and photos ]

The 1,500 ft WVAH TV tower on Coal Mountain near Teays Valley collapsed on February 19, 2003 due to heavy icing from the previous day's winter storm. The tower was built in 1988 and was the tallest structure in the state of West Virginia. A witness said the collapse seemed to take forever and shook the garage where he was working. Chunks of the offending ice covered the ground at the scene.

The collapse knocked Fox 11 TV and Rock 105 radio off the air until a new transmitter could be set up on the nearby WCHS tower. The WCHS antenna was also heavily iced, but survived intact. The next day, clear skies allowed the sun to melt the thick layer of ice on the WCHS tower, which broke off in huge chunks that damaged the roof of the transmitter building below.

Widespread severe ice damage was suffered from this storm across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Other ice-induced tower collapses were also reported that day, including one near Portsmouth, Ohio. For months afterward, the splintered forests attested to the power of the ice storm, the damage closely resembling that of a tornado.

As with most large television/radio broadcast towers, the WVAH antenna was a target for numerous lightning strikes during summer thunderstorms. It, along with the nearby WCHS tower, were hit repeatedly when storms passed overhead.

VIDEO: Ice falls from the nearby WCHS tower

PHOTOS: Click to Enlarge


Debris

Tower base

Lightning hits tower, August 1999

More Headlines:
April 19: Central Plains Trip #1
April 16: Forest Fires
April 4: Route 35 Thunderstorms
March 20: WV & OH Thunderstorms
March 13: Thunderstorms & Valley Fog
February 23: River Flooding
February 22: Winter Thunderstorms
February 20: Ice Falls from Television Tower
February 19: WVAH Tower Collapse
February 16: Snow, Ice & Flooding
January 24: Cold & Snow, Frozen Kanawha
January 9: Solar Optics
December 4: Snowstorm

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