LAX gets surprise traffic problem amid holiday rush

- The Tuesday before Thanksgiving was not supposed to be one of the busiest days at LAX, but a nearby electrical problem changed all of that.

A manhole cover at the intersection of Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards blew around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Supervisor Juan Esparza said it was because of an underground explosion. 

Streets were blocked off, causing a real traffic mess.

DWP workers said the explosion was most likely triggered because of another one a couple of miles away.

About that first explosion, Esparza said, “Right now, what we think happened was that one of the jets coming into the airport, the jet wash got the conductors together and I think that’s what happened.”

Jet wash is wake turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it flies. According to Esparza, that sort of electrical problem happens more than people realize.

Because of the electrical problem and street closings, traffic became snarled. Some trying to get to LAX worried about missing flights.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. through the next few hours, traffic at the airport was like a snail race with no one getting anywhere very quickly.

Meanwhile at Sepulveda and La Tijera, firefighters were intent on making sure everyone was safe. Seven years ago a Los Angeles firefighter was killed at the same place because of a similar underground explosion.

Given the busy travel days ahead, it's important to give yourself plenty of time because you never know when something like an underground explosion might happen -- triggering unexpected traffic consequences.

The busiest days are expected to be Wednesday, Sunday and Monday.

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