Lightning blows hole in West Palm runway

 - October 4, 2007, 6:32 AM

Air traffic at West Palm Beach Airport (PBI), Fla., came to a screeching halt for about an hour on the morning of April 12 due to a lightning strike, but it wasn’t an airplane that was hit. The primary runway at PBI was out of service for about an hour when a bolt of lightning left what airport officials described as a “pothole” on 10,000-foot-long Runway 9L/27R. According to officials, the lightning hit at 9:40 a.m., leaving a crater four inches deep and 18 inches in diameter. It was repaired by 10:30 a.m. The damage, along with intermittent ground holds because of the dangerous weather moving through the area, caused numerous delays at the airport, particularly for business aircraft departures. Delays were compounded by the fact that Monday morning– particularly after a holiday such as Easter–is often a busy departure period for business aircraft regardless of the weather.

Separately, about three hours later, at 9:38 a.m. PST, an electrical equipment failure caused a 10-second power outage at Los Angeles International Airport that interrupted ATC service and snarled air traffic for most of the next several hours. About 100 airline flights were affected, according to an airport spokesman. The outage was blamed on a bird perched on a power line that touched something that was grounded, disrupting power to the airport.