BWI air traffic suspended due to lightning strike

Signs throughout BWI indicate that the airport is completely closed. Photo: Ryan Amirault

Lightning struck the air traffic control tower at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Thursday afternoon, halting flights in and out of one of the busiest airports on the East Coast for more than an hour.

Two runways at BWI remain closed as of 4:45 p.m., but airport officials said in a tweet that the airport had reopened and planes had resumed arriving and departing.

The lightning strike happened just after 2:20 p.m., FAA spokesperson Arlene Salac said. ABC News also reports that an airport employee is being evaluated for a possible lightning strike injury.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on its website that a ground stop is in effect for Baltimore's airport. Signs throughout the airport informed travelers that the airport had been shut down.

Not everyday you see an airport alert like this: #bwi

— Ryan Amirault (@RyanAmirault) September 12, 2013

Incoming flights were placed into holding pattern over the area or were being diverted. A spokesperson with Washington Dulles International Airport told the Washington Post that several flights bound for BWI were being diverted there.

The first indication of problems began at about 2:22 p.m., when air traffic controllers radioed to all incoming traffic that pilots should contact the regional air traffic control for assistance.