The Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower has served as a
navigational fixture to the Cape Fear area since 1966 when it was installed.
The Texas Tower platform was installed to replace lightships that have served as
beacons anchored in the shoals area since 1854. In 1984 the National Data Buoy
Center (NDBC) installed a Coastal Marine Automated Network (CMAN) on the light
tower to provide mariners with automated weather and wave information. In 2003,
the light tower has been deemed a hazard to navigation and it became too
unstable to service the onboard weather equipment. As a result, the NDBC
installed a buoy approximately one half mile south of the tower. After a few
ship strikes this buoy has been relocated approximately 8 miles west-southwest
of the tower location.
The location that this weather and wave equipment serves
is unique in that the area is influenced by the Gulf Stream year round and by
the colder shelf waters during winter months. The tower location is also near
one of the climatologically favored hurricane tracks in the Atlantic Basin. The
Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower and the replacement buoy have seen their share of
significant weather events over the years including Hurricane Isabel in 2003,
Hurricane Gustav in 2002, Hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene in 1999,
Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996, and many indirect
hits over the years. The Frying Pan Shoals are also a favored cyclogenesis area
for Nor'Easters including the March 1993 Super Storm.