Light station sits in Hurricane Dorian's path, 34 miles off N.C. coast

Former Coast Guard light offers view of storm

By David Williams, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

A former Coast Guard light station off the coast of North Carolina is offering a unique view of Hurricane Dorian's power as the storm moves slowly northeast.

SOUTHPORT, N.C. - A former Coast Guard light station off the coast of North Carolina is offering a unique view of Hurricane Dorian's power as the storm moves slowly northeast.

The Frying Pan Tower, 34 miles offshore in the Atlantic, is right in the storm's path.

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A camera on the tower's helipad, some 85 feet above the ocean, is sending live video as the storm approaches.

In the video, an American flag is seen flapping frantically and tugging at its flagpole, which is shaking in the wind. Below, the ocean churns violently.

The tower was built in 1964 to help ships avoid the Frying Pan Shoals, a shallow area that was known for shipwrecks. For years, about 20 Coast Guard cadets lived on the station full time. The station was automated in 1979 and the development of GPS made it obsolete.

Richard Neal bought the abandoned tower in 2010 and is renovating the structure. At one point he turned it into an offshore bed and breakfast.

He is not riding out the storm in the tower, but did fly out there by helicopter on Wednesday to repair the live feed.

Neal told CNN on Thursday that he wants people to see the hurricane's power.

"You know, people all hear about the things going on with the ocean, but until you actually see it yourself, you don't know what it's like and only can imagine it," Neal said. "This puts people in the eye of what's actually happening so you can see the storm, you can see the waves and almost feel the wind tearing the flag."

Last year, Hurricane Florence shredded the tower's flag, so Neal retired it and replaced it with a new flag.

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