BWI reopens to flights after lightning strike, delays snarl air traffic throughout Northeast

September 12, 2013

The severe weather in the area impacted the region’s three airports, with a lightning strike grounding all flights at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for more than two hours and storms temporarily halting arrivals at Reagan National and Dulles International airports.

BWI had stopped all flights to or from the airport at around 2:30 p.m. after the report of a lightning strike, said Jonathan Dean, an airport spokesman. The airport announced that it had reopened at around 4:45 p.m., with two runways closed but air traffic beginning to move again. Flight operations were expected to resume shortly after 5 p.m., according to the airport. But travelers traveling on Thursday evening should be prepared for potential headaches.

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The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that lightning struck the airport’s air traffic control tower at 2:21 p.m. As a result, the tower could not handle any air traffic operations and all arrivals and departures were halted for more than two hours.

In addition, the FAA reported ground stops halting flights from arriving at National and Dulles on Thursday afternoon. Bad weather caused problems at airports across the Northeast corridor, with delays reported at the airports in or around Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

One air traffic controller in the tower at BWI required medical attention, but it didn’t appear they were seriously hurt, an FAA official said on Thursday.

As of 6:30 p.m., flights were coming and going from BWI, but there were still delays impacting arrivals and departures, according to the FAA. There were also considerable delays for flights leaving National. Flights to and from Dulles were running without major delays.

At least five flights scheduled to land at BWI were diverted to Dulles International Airport this afternoon, according to Dulles officials.

Scores of flights to or from BWI were affected, leading to long lines in the airport:

This post has been updated. First published: 3:34 p.m. Last updated: 6:29 p.m. 

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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