A couple of weeks ago a functional coastal warning display tower (weather tower) was installed/replaced at the US Weather Bureau Station in Hatteras Village, just across the street from our Hatteras Office! While you may be thinking that doesn’t seem terribly exciting, Hatteras Island (where the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current meet) was/is actually a vital location for weather forecasting, and according to the NPS, Hatteras was the only known wireless station in the US to have received the first distress call from the RMS Titanic! “Record of this transmission was lost to history for almost 100 years, and was only discovered in 2009 during a restoration project when it was found rolled up in a wall as insulation.” Pretty cool, right?!
Back in the day, before infrastructure and modern communication channels such as cable and social media, folks on the island received their news by boat or word of mouth and islanders learned to read the weather using observed patterns…and a few old wives’ tales. Little sayings like “Red skies at night are a sailor’s delight, but red skies in the morning are a sailor’s warning” would carry on for generations, but someone may very well look at you like you have two heads if you happen to casually mention that it must be about to rain because a toe that you broke 20/+ years ago is starting to cramp up.
Per the NPS: “The U.S. Weather Bureau, predecessor to the modern-day National Weather Service, established several weather stations and observation posts in North Carolina as part of a national network of weather stations throughout the late-1800s and early-1900s. Construction of the weather station in Hatteras was completed in 1901 and commissioning occurred on Jan. 1, 1902.
In the absence of modern early warning systems, weather stations like the one in Hatteras helped predict rough seas and severe weather. Weather observers often had just hours or minutes to warn residents of approaching storms using flags flown from the weather tower, and sirens. The new weather tower in Hatteras replaces a tower that was removed in the 1980s after it collapsed.”
As such, the station became a welcome tool for island residents and the return of its tower thanks to
Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s philanthropic partner, Outer Banks Forever, and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, has been well received indeed.
Learn more about US Weather Bureau Station here: