After being incapacitated by an electrical problem, the video camera from a famed hurricane observatory off the North Carolina coast is now back online, just in time for viewers to see live footage of Hurricane Dorian.
Those who watch the webcam from the Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower — located 32 miles off the coast of southeastern North Carolina — will likely see long views of the storm as well as an up-close look at hurricane-force winds whipping the American flag.
Richard Neal, a software sales engineer from south Charlotte, is now the principal owner of the old Coast Guard light tower. Neal bought the tower at government auction for $85,000 in 2010.
An electrical problem had knocked out the video camera that is mounted on the tower’s helipad, Neal said. So Neal flew out to the tower early Wednesday morning to hook up a generator, which is charging the batteries that power the camera.
Early Wednesday morning, the winds at the tower were blowing at no more than about 15 miles per hour, Neal said.
“But about 30 to 50 miles away, to the southeast, it looked ominous,” Neal said. “The beast was out there, coming toward us.”
Thousands of viewers watched the tower’s web cam last year, as Hurricane Florence whipped — and eventually shredded — the American flag.
Neal later auctioned the tattered flag for nearly $11,000, giving the proceeds to the Red Cross and its relief efforts. He said he plans to do the same thing this year.
Neal said he wishes he could watch the storm from the tower, but responsibilities have intervened. He had a job interview scheduled for Wednesday.