New hurricane sensor technology could hit Cape Fear before the next storm


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – Official hurricane season only lasts 9 weeks, but new sensor technology will be ready if we get a storm in late season at Cape Fear.

The University of Florida is working with North Carolina Sea Grant to bring a 33-foot hurricane sensor tower to Wrightsville Beach before the next storm hits.

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“We have one tower under construction right now and we’re planning two more, probably next year,” said NC Sea Grant geologist Spencer Rogers. “A late-season storm that we might catch with the unit that’s just finished in Gainesville, Florida.”

Rogers says they will install the towers 2 to 3 days before land incursion and remove them when the storm subsides.

“These are to be installed on the beach. So the conditions are much tougher. They have to deal with storm surges, waves and erosion. “

Rogers says this technology is still in development but will provide valuable information by measuring wind speed, storm surge and wave heights in real time.

“To understand what I see when I go out into the field and around the country, and see what happened to buildings, whether they broke down or if they survived,” said Rogers. “I really need to know the conditions. These towers are ideal for giving me a point of position on the coast under what conditions the waves, water and wind begin to hit the developed community. “

Tim Owens, head of the Wrightsville Beach city, says while he’s optimistic that it will be a while before the technology is placed in Wrightsville Beach – meaning no storms are coming – he’s glad the sensors are used when needed to be ready.

“Anytime you can collect data on hurricanes and understand how they react and react to land, I think it’s a good place to start,” said Owens.

The University of Florida is in the process of securing locations from Texas to New England for the sensors. They could be placed in Fort Fisher and Oak Island.

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