Local News

Hurricane-Force Winds Recorded At RDU International

Posted September 18, 2004 3:13 a.m. EDT

— Flights in and out of

Raleigh-Durham International Airport

were suspended for a short time Friday afternoon due to high winds.

Hurricane-force wind gusts of 92 mph were recorded at the airport at 3:56 p.m. The aircraft control tower was evacuated and flight operations were suspended.

The east runway reopened at 4:45 p.m. and flights resumed soon after. The west runway reopened by 7 p.m.

A line of damage was reported from Terminal A to Terminal C.

Airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said the airport received some minor property damage.

As many as 12 general aviation aircraft and 30 vehicles were damaged. Hamlin said the force of the winds blew windows from cars in parking garage 3 near Terminal A.

Broken skylights and roof leaks were also reported in Terminal A.

Strong winds ripped siding and insulation from the buildings, blew out glass at bus shelters and knocked trees and light poles down.

No one was injured; however, passengers on a plane sitting on the runway were rattled.

"As soon as we got on the plane the wind just got horrific. It was really bad," passenger Jody Sobotka said. "It was very scary. I wanted off -- I'm just glad they let us off."

Joann Cox was on the same plane. She says when the pilot said he had no idea what was going on since the tower had been evacuated, she was worried.

"There was a breakdown in communication," she said. I would hope they would be monitoring this and making good judgment to be able to say whether it is safe for the flying public to be out there."

On Friday, 45 flights were delayed and 29 were canceled.


Ken Smith