Today In 2011: Major Storm Knocks Down Battle Creek Radio Tower
Memorial Day weekend 2018 will be remembered for record breaking heat across southwest Michigan, but the holiday weekend seven years ago was marked by a different weather event. On Sunday, May 29th, 2011, fast-moving severe storms swept through the region leaving heavy damage behind. Miraculously there were no serious injuries or fatalities reported.
During the storms, a tree in the WBCK tower field was blown down and it snapped one of the three guy-wires for one of the four AM towers. This allowed the tower to fall and it was heavily mangled on the way down. Fortunately, the tower that fell was the furthest from the radio station's studios and nearby residences. A radio tower falling is extremely rare and it usually is storm related when it does happen.
Straight-line winds between 75 and 100 mph pummeled southwest Michigan, and the storm spawned two tornadoes, one in St. Joseph County and the other near Coldwater. But Calhoun County was the hardest hit as the storm produced a wide destructive swath from the southwest to the northeast. Most of the county, including much of the Battle Creek metro-area, lost power and dozens of streets were blocked, some for days, by huge trees that had fallen on the roadways. Dozens of homes were damaged either by fallen trees or the wind itself. Over 145,000 homes and businesses across Michigan lost power.
Hundreds of crews responded to the area afterward, including personnel from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Department of Corrections who assisted the Calhoun County Road Commission and City Public Works efforts. The Red Cross was called in and other volunteer efforts were put together to help those in need after the disaster. The severe storms that hit southern Michigan that day even made national headlines for the massive amount of property damage.