Portions of an exterior wall at the Gildan Distribution Center in Mebane, N.C. ripped off by heavy winds on Friday, May 6, 2022.

Orange County

A tornado touched down Friday for seven minutes in Orange County, the National Weather Service confirmed, leaving several downed power lines and trees and causing damage to a handful of buildings, including a warehouse in Orange County.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday that an EF-1 tornado had touched down in Mebane, with winds peaking at 105 mph. The tornado traveled 3.6 miles northeast from 5:08 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Heavy winds damaged six buildings in Orange County, officials reported Friday evening, five of which were residences. Wind gusts also damaged the Gildan Distribution Center on East Washington Street in Mebane, tearing off large portions of the exterior wall, county officials said in a news release.

A total of 30 employees were inside the distribution center when the storm struck, but no one was injured, said Kirby Saunders, the county’s director of emergency services.

Gildan Distribution Center damage
Portions of an exterior wall at the Gildan Distribution Center in Mebane, N.C. ripped off by heavy winds on Friday, May 6, 2022. Orange County

The company, a Canadian-based textile manufacturer, notified officials earlier this year that it planned to close the Mebane distribution center and let go of 128 employees, The Alamance News reported in March. Gildan plans to move operations from this center to Charleston, according to ABC11, The News & Observer’s newsgathering partner.

The county reported on Twitter just after 5:45 p.m. that a tornado had touched down in Mebane. Meteorologists with ABC11 also confirmed that a tornado had touched down.

Saunders, the emergency services director, said in a news release that several people called 911 and reported seeing a funnel cloud.

An EF-1 tornado is considered weak in character but can cause moderate damage with estimated winds at 73 to 112 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials said they also received 911 calls from residences on Frazier and Mace roads about damage from fallen trees and downed power lines. The National Weather Service said at least one detached garage was destroyed and “its roof and walls were scatted in nearly all directions.”

Saunders said the county would help anyone who was displaced by the damage and needed emergency housing assistance.

In addition to the downed power lines, the storm also damaged multiple natural gas lines. Utility crews were working on Friday to secure those lines, officials said.

State trooper shocked by downed power line

A trooper who came into contact with a live wire was shocked Friday evening, the State Highway Patrol said, according to ABC11. The trooper had been working to clear fallen trees and downed power lines in Mebane.

The trooper was taken to a hospital for treatment and was in stable condition, ABC11 reported.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the National Weather Service reported 60 mph wind gusts and hail the size of half dollar coins, ABC11 reported.

The weather service had previously warned that many parts of central North Carolina could see wind gusts up to 60 mph and hail.

Downed trees were reported on Friday in other parts of the Triangle too, including one on Yates Mill Road in Cary, and one that fell on a house in Wake Forest, ABC11 reported.

This story was originally published May 7, 2022 10:47 AM.

Avi Bajpai is a state politics reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He previously covered breaking news and public safety. Contact him at [email protected] or (919) 346-4817.