Lightning strikes MIA tower; flights delayed, canceled

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Lightning struck the control tower at Miami International Airport, Tuesday night, as severe thunderstorms formed across South Florida.

A spokesperson with the FAA said lightning hit the tower at around 7:30 p.m., affecting some radio frequencies and phone lines. The spokesperson said their radar kept operating, and the phone lines and frequencies were restored quickly.
Florida Power and Light reported 14,371 power outages in Miami-Dade County and 1,722 in Broward County.

In a statement, FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said, “FAA technicians quickly restored the frequencies and landlines, and we’re monitoring all systems closely. Severe thunderstorms have been affecting flights this evening, and FAA air traffic controllers are working to keep the system operating safely.”

7News was told there has been a total of 97 delays and cancellations since the weather delay. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reported 144 delays and five cancellations.

“Nowhere to sit, nothing,” said passenger Cavelle Frederick. “I’m here with my little grandchildren — look at her, sleeping there on a suitcase.”

Frederick added that she was detoured. “When we were coming towards Miami, we were told that we couldn’t land,” she said. “We tried to land twice, so they rerouted us to West Palm Beach.”

7News’ Craig Stevens was also on a flight diverted to West Palm. He posted this photo on social media as he counted down the minutes to return home.

Many traveled to MIA by car or bus from West Palm Beach. “There they gave away vouchers just for taxis,” said passenger Ana de Silva. “No food, no hotel, no nothing.”

“Driving here was a little hard, because of the rain, low visibility,” said another man.

By 10 p.m. planes were landing and taking off again, but many people had already been affected earlier in the day.

“I’ve been here maybe half an hour. They were supposed to land at 8:40, and they’re circling now, scheduled to get in at 9:47, I think,” said one woman waiting at the airport. “I just want them to get here safely.”

The incident cost dozens of passengers not only their time, but more money to get to their final destination. “Now I have to pay another flight from Toronto to Montreal,” said passenger Francois Bergeron, “or I have to wait until Friday.”

One man said he had to wait four hours for his luggage, making him miss the train. He called family members to come pick him up.

Another man was waiting for his family to drive to MIA from Fort Myers because they couldn’t land at MIA.

Officials have advised travelers to call their airline before heading to the airport.

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