The power of ice on a mountaintop...

Sometimes natural forces can at once create beauty and cause violent destruction.  This photo was taken soon after a major ice storm at the Tehachapi Mountain "antenna farm."  All of the trees, antennas and guy cables are covered with a thick layer of ice.  The massive weight of the ice--coupled with the inevitable high winds that accompany ice storms--can destroy large trees (and antennas). 

 Wind-driven moisture in low clouds and fog can cause a buildup of several inches of ice on one side of an antenna, tree or building.  Aircraft pilots are well acquainted with this effect; they call it rime icing.  It can cause disastrous airplane crashes--and antenna crashes.  Even this handrail on the deck of my cabin has heavy ice on the windward side, but almost none on top.  This is NOT the result of a snowstorm

This photo shows why antennas can be destroyed by ice.  Note the pipe mast at right.  It is less than two inches in diameter, but it has about four inches of ice on the windward side.  There is no ice on the other side.  The elements of this antenna (the horizontal aluminum tubing) are only about one inch in diameter--and utterly incapable of supporting the weight of the ice.  (This antenna failed soon after this picture was taken.)  The photos below show what happens to antennas in a major ice storm--the sort of storm that occurs six or eight times a year at 7,000 feet elevation in the Tehachapi Mountains. 

This is a 15-meter Yagi antenna before a storm arrived... 

...And a few days later.
This is a 2-element 40-meter antenna; half of each element 
has broken off. 
This 20-meter antenna was badly twisted in the same storm.
Is there a solution to this problem?  No one--not even the utility companies whose lines often come down in ice-prone climates--has found a good answer.  So we put up antennas every spring, knowing that they will probably be destroyed by November.  Is this fun or what? 

                                                                                -Wayne Overbeck