Lightning strikes Gatwick tower

Thursday 30th Jun 2011 by theWeather club

First there was ash, then there was snow, then more ash. And now it seems that the gods have taken a personal hand in making Gatwick's management grey-haired more quickly than would naturally occur. Angry passengers were faced with yet more disruption after lightning - the favoured weapon of chief god Zeus- struck the control tower at the Sussex Airport.

The tower was hit at about 2pm on Tuesday during the thunderstorms that were sweeping across south eastern parts of England. A spokeswoman told reporters that departing flights were delayed by a combination of the lightning, the severe weather conditions and surges on the local power grid.

She confirmed that the airport had managed to avoid any outright flight cancellations and arrivals had not been affected by the stormy conditions. The statement also said that there had been no permanent equipment damage and no injuries to airport staff or members of the public during the incident. "Everything was back-up and running from 2.45pm. Departing flights were suspended momentarily for 25 minutes," her statement continued.

A spokesperson for National Air Traffic Services (Nats) said: "One part of the system was knocked out for about 10 minutes. The lightning had a minor effect but the main reason for the delays was the thunderstorms which the pilots want to fly round rather than through."

And it wasn't just the planes that were affected. Passengers on the Gatwick Express, between the airport and London Victoria station, also experienced delays after lightning strikes caused signalling problems. So it seems that even after the last icicle has melted and ash particle has fallen back to earth, the world of air travel continues to live in 'interesting times'.