SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - Southport’s historic weather tower toppled over and was severely damaged as a line of storms passed through the area overnight.
Police Chief Todd Coring said that officers discovered the damage while patrolling the area after the storm.
“Sadly while patrolling after the storm, officers found our historic weather tower was twisted and toppled during tonight’s storm,” Coring said in a Facebook post. “Officers secured and folded the flag then shut power off to the structure. Please avoid the area tomorrow as assessments and removal efforts begin.”
The 90-foot tower has welcomed visitors to Southport for over a century and had survived hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian in recent years.
For more than 60 years, Jessie Stevens-Taylor of Southport would man the weather station.
“The McKinley administration in 1898 were the ones who originally decided to build the structure here to warn Mariners in the town against weather that was coming,” said North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport Manager, Lori Sanderlin.
The 90-foot tower has welcomed visitors to Southport for over a century and had survived hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian in recent years. However, thursday night’s storms proved to be the proverbial ,“Straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“Most of the showers featured strong 35 to 55 mph wind gusts, but there is a chance this site spiked higher during a brief Severe Thunderstorm Warning,” said WECT Chief Meteorologist Gannon Medwick.
Mayor Joseph P. Hatem said he’s already asked town manager Bruce Oakley to contact a structural engineer to discuss possible options for restoring the iconic tower.
“This is an important restoration project for the city, and we must salvage our heritage. There will need to be private funds involved and this process is already underway,” Hatem stated in a news release.