EF-1 tornado touched down near RDU on Thursday, National Weather Service confirms

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Saturday, April 2, 2022
EF-1 tornado touched down near RDU, NWS confirms
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in the Triangle on Thursday.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in the Triangle on Thursday.

The twister caused high winds that damaged the new Pfizer building on Shiloh Glenn Drive just west of Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The storm survey team determined that the tornado had EF-1 strength. Early research suggests the tornado was a few hundred yards in width and spent just a few minutes on the ground. Still, its wind speed reached up to around 100 miles per hour.

"Certainly anytime there's a tornado it's never a good situation," NWS representative Daniel Leins said. "Folks got the warning ahead of time, they took shelter when they needed to and fortunately it doesn't sound like there was any loss of life, injuries and anything of that nature."

The wind blew "some of the covering off the building," a Durham fire official said.

A large tree also fell in the parking lot as a result of the storm and debris and limbs were scattered about.

The Durham Fire Department said workers were inside the building at the time but nobody was injured.

There was a scare, however, after a gas smell was detected.

"We had a smell of gas inside the building, so what we've done is we sent four crews from the hazmat crew in to measure the building and they've gone through the whole building so everything is clear," said Jim Cole, Durham Fire Division Chief.

The damage at Pfizer wasn't the only evidence of the strong storm that prompted tornado warnings in the Triangle.

A wooden fence rippling over on its side and a massive tree uprooted also bore witness to the afternoon's wild weather.

Ben Eller of Durham was getting tornado alerts on his phone as he was driving.

Dark clouds rolled through and strong winds kicked up. Eller's drive took a startling turn.

"It hit like a ton of bricks -- the sound, the vehicle was shaking," Eller said. "It started to lift a little bit, the one side. The semi beside me blocked most of the debris but it was rocking back and forth."

A number of cars crashed on the road. Traffic was shut down on Highway 64.

A crew used cables to right a truck. Another truck, carrying boxes of tomatoes, flipped in Harnett County.

Back at Pfizer, though cosmetic repairs will need to be made to the building, Cole said there was no structural damage.