WI lighthouse thought to be washed away

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MANITOWOC, WI (WBAY)-- A strong storm system hit the upper Midwest earlier in the week. Strong winds produced big waves and were powerful enough to wash a navigational beacon right off a pier on Lake Michigan. It was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

A beacon is a blinking light that helps ships navigate, especially along the shore.

The south pier lighthouse navigational beacon stood 20 feet tall in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on the lake's western shore. To put that into perspective, 20 feet is just over one story.

Chief Eric Olson from the U.S. Coast Guard said, "It's pretty nasty out there, just with the right swell and the wind direction and the duration that it's been building since last night, the waves got very large and the direction was directly into the break-wall. so it's not a common occurrence, but, you know, in the end mother nature sometimes wins."

Coast Guard officials say they're not 100-percent sure where the beacon went, though they agree it's most likely at the bottom of the lake.

They plan to replace it with a new one.