UPDATED: Missing your TV? Winter storm snaps power line, knocks broadcasters off the air

TV and other services were knocked out to Southern Utah after power lines failed and the tower broadcasting those signals iced over. Washington County, Utah, Jan. 24, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Jim Hoskins, AWI Networks, St. George News

Update Nov. 25, 2:45 p.m. — AWI Networks Vice President and General Manager Jim Hoskins confirmed that the AWI internet transmitters on Utah Hill have been restored using temporary generators.

“We’re waiting for a part (for the main generator), it’s supposed to be here either late today (Wednesday) or first thing in the morning,” Hoskins said. “Once we get that other generator up and running we hope to restore the TV.”

There is still no timetable for Utah Power and Light to restore main power to the site, Hoskins said. The main generator should be able to power the site for a while, bringing most services back online by Thursday morning.

ST. GEORGE — Southern Utah residents using antennas to watch broadcast television from Salt Lake City were left in the dark Monday. The transmitters on one of the tallest peaks in Southern Utah went silent when a main power line was damaged.

TV and other services were knocked out to Southern Utah after power lines failed and the tower broadcasting those signals iced over. Washington County, Utah, Jan. 24, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Jim Hoskins, AWI Networks, St. George News

TV translators on Utah Hill between St. George and Littlefield, Arizona, suddenly went off the air Monday. The cause was determined to be a broken power main.

Salt Lake City TV stations KTVX channel 4, KSL channel 5, KUED channel 7, KBYU channel 11, KSTU channel 13, KJZZ channel 14, KUED channel 18 and all their subchannels were knocked off the air when the power failed.

“The towers up there are iced solid after the storms this weekend,” AWI Networks President Mical Terry said. “The main thing is that Utah Power and Light has a pole line going up to furnish power to the site, and they actually had two poles that sheared just above the snow line.”

Terry said the snowdrifts on the hill are 8-12 feet in some places.

“They (AWI crews and repair teams) can’t get into there with equipment,” Terry said. “I would guess they’d actually have to take a (snow) cat and build a road to get into those places through the snow banks and drifts in order to restore power to the site.”

The repair crews headed to the hill to service the transmitters were stymied when the wind, blowing snow and drifts proved to be too treacherous for snow cats and snowmobiles to get through, Terry said.

Crews were reduced to walking with snowshoes about 1/2 mile to the sites where they found the broken power line and were unable to start the backup generators.

The backup generators at the sites ran for several hours after the power was knocked out but Terry said the generators quit about noon Monday due to a part failure. Crews have been unable to restart the generators.

Repair crews on snowshoes walk to the transmitter site on Utah Hill. Washington County, Utah, Jan. 24, 2017. Washington County, Utah, Jan. 24, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Jim Hoskins, AWI Networks, St. George News

TV translators are small transmitters that rebroadcast a signal from a main station located in a distant area. Utah Hill is a main site in the chain of translators from Salt Lake City.

Unaffected were KUTV 2, KMYU 12 and KCSG 8/16. Those stations do not broadcast from Utah Hill.

TV was not the only service affected. Several land mobile radio operators were located on Utah Hill as well, servicing two-way radio customers, like Questar Gas. Local amateur radio repeaters were also silenced with the power outage.

Customers of cable and satellite dish companies were not affected by this outage, as the signal from those services is not dependent on the mountaintop translators.

Terry estimated it would be several days before these broadcast services would be fully restored to Southern Utah.

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • SteveSGU January 24, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    So why is my AWI Internet service now working again? Is their transmitter still not powered? If that’s the case, have they switched all of the affected customers to another transmitting site? Is that site less vulnerable to storms? Were other Internet providers affected?

    Follow-up to questions in people’s comments on your articles would be appreciated.

    • wilbur January 25, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      There is a high-cap Fiber Optic line between St. Geo and Salt Lake. After AWi local towers collect your mighty Internet traffic (and quite some others, I assume) it is likely put on the FO line, which, BTW, would be immune to icing troubles.

      These towers mentioned in the article move, AFAIK, TV signals down here for local consumption. I’m not aware they carry Internet traffic.

      Maybe someone more knowledgeable might weigh in here.

  • wilbur January 25, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Ahhhh, peace and quiet from from the boob tube.

    Sweet.

  • Bender January 25, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Ham radio 2-meter repeater outage? How am I gonna moan about my diabetes and Hillary?

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