We received some very grave news the other day: the world renown KCCI weather beacon in Des Moines will be going dark. If you are not from Des Moines and/or never heard of this local landmark then it means absolutely nothing to you. For all the rest of us that matter, it was like a little piece of us just died inside. So yeah...this definitely qualifies as an obituary.
The weather beacon had been a staple in the Des Moines community ever since 1988. Well technically, I guess it actually started in 1960 but then turned off in 1973 due to an energy crisis. Even as old as I am I was too young to remember that. That was before I was in Des Moines anyway. So when it came on in 1988 it was an even more special reason for me to have an affinity for it since it started the same year I graduated high school.
Someone at KCCI came up with the brilliant idea to give a very, very brief weather forecast for the entire city to see. The weather beacon is an array of lights on the downtown broadcast tower that changes colors based on the weather forecast. In a time before internet, it truly was a genius marketing ploy. Complete with catchy sayings to make the weather forecast even more simple:
Weather beacon red...warmer weather ahead
Weather beacon white...colder weather is in sight
Weather beacon green...no change in temperature foreseen
Weather beacon flashing night or day...precipitation is on the way
I moved from the Des Moines twice since 1988 thinking for sure that by the time I came back the weather beacon would be gone. Or at least not be used anymore. Certainly they wouldn't have continued in in the age while the internet thrived and everyone could get weather info 24/7, would they? They sure did. And it's a good thing too. I know there were plenty of days that I would round the curve on I-235 looking to see those lights to get the weather because I had forgotten to get the forecast earlier. Not to mention that it was just good to see a familiar structure from my childhood was still intact.
Alas, the time has come when the weather beacon will go black for good. Apparently there are two main reasons it is being shut down: the old bulbs aren't made anymore, and the tower itself must lose weight or face a massive overhaul. Naturally, this has prompted several DM residents to start a campaign to save the beacon. Complete with its own fan page and all. As much as I like the weather beacon, I can certainly think of several other more important things they can spend that money on. It had a good run while it lasted.
Rest in peace, weather beacon.