Passenger air service at Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is resuming Wednesday morning, after KCI was closed for more than five hours after storm debris “rained down” onto the airport Tuesday night. The National Weather Service classified the storm as an EF-2 tornado, six miles northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City International (KCI) Airport was closed for more than five hours after tornado debris “rained down” onto the airport, according to KCI (May 28, 2019 photo courtesy of KCI Twitter page)

KCI spokesman Joe McBride says the airport was closed from about 7 last night until about 12:15 this morning.

“This all started at about 7 p.m. when there was a tornado that looked like it was bearing down on Kansas City International Airport and we actually evacuated the terminals and brought people (passengers and KCI employees) down to shelter in place in the tunnels,” McBride says.

KCI officials say thousands of pieces of tornado debris landed on airport property, including wall panels, pots and items from a greenhouse/nursery.

Crews were brought in to remove the debris, which KCI says is presumed to be from tornado damage about 47 miles away in Linwood, Kansas.

All of the debris had to be cleared by crews, before KCI could reopen and air service could resume. McBride tells Missourinet crews had to clear 15 million square feet of airfield.

“We had to bring crews back in and some of the stuff, it might be a large panel from a barn or something,” says McBride. “You have to pick that up, throw it in a truck and then come back with the smaller stuff using a large broom that’s used for snow removal.”

KCI officials emphasize safety’s importance, saying foreign object damage to an airplane can cause a catastrophe.

McBride says international service was also impacted by the closure.

“We even had an Iceland Air flight flying in from Iceland that was diverted to Wichita. Those folks are really wondering what’s going on,” McBride says.

The massive KCI complex covers more than 10,000 acres, and the KCI website notes the airport’s three terminals are each more than one-third of a mile long.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Kansas City International Airport (KCI) spokesman Joe McBride, which was recorded on May 28, 2019:

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