Thunderstorm knocks out power at Los Angeles airport, delays more than 100 flights

A satellite image of the thunderstorm which knocked out power across LAX.
A satellite image of the thunderstorm which knocked out power across LAX. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A thunderstorm knocked out power across Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday (March 7), delaying more than 100 flights.

LAX spokesman Nancy Castles said back-up generators were started as the storm hit shortly after 6am and power was restored in all terminals within an hour.

"Arriving flights to LAX have been slowed down and during the storm cell two flights (were) diverted to Ontario International Airport," she said, later updating the figure to four.

Among arrivals there were 64 delays and two cancellations by 1pm, while departures were hit with 64 delays and four cancellations, Ms Castles said.

She said strong winds of 56 kmh were buffeting the airport but were not expected to further delay flights as they were coming from the west.

"However, all airport tenants have been notified to secure all equipment for safety reasons," she added.

"Passengers are advised to check with their airlines on flight status before coming to the airport."

The storm rumbling across California dumped almost 1m of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountain range overnight.

In Los Angeles, bewildered residents took to Twitter to report high winds and pea-sized hailstones, many using the #elnino hashtag to refer to the climate phenomenon that has helped push global temperatures to record levels and caused extreme weather.

"I thought it was an earthquake...Then thunder & lightning & hail happened. I'm so worried for the homeless," said one.

Flash flood watches were in place for foothill neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with the National Weather Service forecasting more heavy rain and lightning after a lull on Monday night.