(QCostarica) It was around 2:00pm Friday when the skies around the Central Valley turned real ugly. It wasn’t your normal rainy season afternoon. The skies thundered and lit up in some areas, in others it was only a distant sound.
One of the areas greatly affected was the San Jose airport (Juan Santamaria interional airport), when three lightning strikes fell on the area of the airport occupied by Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (Coopesa), the aircraft maintenance hangar immediately west of the main terminal.
According to Erick Barboza, director of Aeris, the airport concessionaire, eight people were affected by the lightning strike, six of which had to be taken to the nearby Alajuela hospital. Of the affected, three were Coopesa workers, the other five airport ground support personnel.
The two Coopesa employees impacted by the lightning were reported in delicate, but stable condition.
“Lightning struck in three places, one in the Coopesa and the other wo in the area of the boarding bridges,” explained Barboza.
According to Barboza, the airport is equipped with lightning rods. “What happens is that if it is raining the energy (from the lightning strike) can move through the water,” explained Barboza of yesterday’s incident.
Although the incident did not directly affect Friday afternoon airport operations, the prevailing weather conditions in the country led to three flights bound for San Jose detoured to the Liberia (Daniel Oduber) airport in Guanacaste. The three flights were: Iberia’s flight from Madrid; Copa Air from Panama; and the Avianca flight from El Salvador.
On the ground at the San Jose airport, the Air Canada flight was delayed in departure.
According to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the area most affected by the lightning storm were Atenas, Orotina and Guacima (de Alajuela). The areas of the Pacific coast, from the Nicoya Peninsula to the Osa were also affected.
From January to June this year some 170,000 lightning strikes fell on the country, just shy of the record 177,000 recorded in the first five months of 2014. According to ICE, in 2015, recorded were 794,000 lightning strikes.
The statistics of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) reveal six fatalities in 2013 and seven in 2014, of people struck by lightning. The numbers for fatalities due to this natural phenomena in 2015 are not yet in.
Sources: La Nacion, Teletica, Accidentes de Costa Rica Facebook, Aeris, ICE