KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All staff in the tower cab at Kansas City International Airport were evacuated for their safety amid high winds and thunderstorms.
The primary air hub for the Kansas City region moved to “Air Traffic Control (ATC) Zero” shortly before 6 p.m., according to the official KCI Twitter account.
5:50pm @KCIAirport is at “Air Traffic Control (ATC) Zero”. For their safety FAA staff in the tower cab evacuated. This means there is no Air Traffic Control for flights at the airport. There will likely be diversions and delays. Anticipate 1 hour. Check https://t.co/sshKJZCarq— Kansas City International Airport (@KCIAirport) December 16, 2021
All Federal Aviation Administration staff were moved out of the cab, leaving the airport with no air traffic controllers for flights at KCI.
“There will likely be diversions and delays,” according to KCI. “Anticipate 1 hour.”
With the worst of the storm having passed, air traffic controllers were permitted to return to the tower cab and the airport was set to repoen after a visual sweep to ensure there was no debris on the runways.
6:36pm. The worst of the storm has passed by. FAA Air Traffic Controllers have returned to the tower cab. After our Operations staff do a visual sweep of the runways, we anticipate reopening in a few minutes. Thanks for your patience. Check https://t.co/sshKJZCarq for flight info— Kansas City International Airport (@KCIAirport) December 16, 2021
The airport was expected to reopen around 6:45 p.m.
Travelers should check FlyKCI.com for updates on flight delays and possible cancellations.
The National Weather Service has confirmed winds as fast as 67 mph at KCI this evening.
The tower at KCI stands 256 feet tall, which presents an increased danger in high-wind events.
Still, it's rare for the tower to be evacuated, according to KCI's Senior Manager for Marketing and Communications Joe McBride.