An airport lightning strike at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) on Thursday resulted in a worker being injured and the air traffic control tower being temporarily shut down. USA Today reports Sept. 12 that the airport lightning strike happened at 2:21 p.m. as storms were rolling through the area. The tower was reopened at 5 p.m.
Air traffic was being handled by a regional facility while the tower at BWI was closed for a few hours.
The worker injured is an FAA staffer in the traffic management unit. He was reportedly in the control room or tower cab when the airport lightning strike occurred.
"It knocked him to his knees and other controllers were there to pick him up make sure he was OK," said John Dunkerly, the controller association's president at BWI. "He had some numbness in his arms and in his legs."
It's believed that he may have been touching a panel that controls runway lights from an emergency generator system that keeps the lights on. It may not have been properly grounded, Dunkerly said.
The injured controller was taken to the Shock Trauma Center of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. His wife took him home about 7 p.m., according to Dunkerly.
About 120 flights were canceled at BWI by 6:30 p.m., according to the flight-tracking firm FlightStats.com.
An airport lightning strike of this nature is unusual, but a good part of the nation is experiencing violent storms across the region.