Update: As of this morning (Sept. 14) the Frying Pan Tower live stream is no longer live. Richard Neal, the owner, wrote on the tower’s Facebook page, “winds were gusting into low 80s last night with averages in 60s! We lost power a little after this so either a connection somewhere between there and here failed or the tower is um, missing. I’ll put my bet on a simple power failure but will not know for a while.”
On a normal Thursday, Frying Pan Tower—a former Coast Guard station about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina that now functions as a hotel—might be bracing for weekend guests. Thursday, it was instead hosting thousands of virtual visitors, who are watching Hurricane Florence approach the U.S. via a webcam mounted on its lighthouse.
Frying Pan was once dubbed “the most dangerous hotel in the world” by Condé Nast Traveler, and right now that might actually be true. Built in the 1960s to replace the manned lightships that had been warning other ships away from the shallow shoal since 1854, the tower was decommissioned in 2004. Richard Neal bought it in a government auction in 2010 for $88,000, he told WFAE in Charlotte, and turned it into an eight-room bed-and-breakfast.
While today the tower is currently only occupied by the webcam, Neal and his family weathered Hurricane Arthur on it in 2014, when their scheduled helicopter cancelled because of high winds. “Well, the strangest thing about a hurricane is on shore they’re dangerous and scary,” he told Our State magazine. “They should be because things get blown through the air and they hit you and kill you. Out here, there’s nothing to hit you but water, and the water you have on a pair of safety glasses and you have a safety line on.”
During Arthur, Neal took video in 100-mile-per-hour winds using his safety line and a GoPro, and posted them on YouTube.
Assuming Frying Pan survives Florence unscathed, a three-day, two-night stays run costs $1,345 per person, including supplies, meals, and helicopter transportation from Cape Fear Municipal Airport.