Hurricane Michael smashed a power transformer into Margaret Clayton’s caterpillar-shaped Monolithic Dome home. The home is a few miles southeast of Mexico Beach in Port Saint Joe, Florida. Clayton stayed in her home during the hurricane. Everything was going well — until her neighbor’s house exploded.
“I watched their house explode,” said Clayton. “The transformer on the other side of that house came flying into my dome wall. Then from attached wires, swung back, then returned, smashing the side garage door. It was quite the show!”
The transformer swung like a medieval flail weapon into the window augment. It did cause a small hole in the dome wall — at the inverse curve — where it is arguably weaker than the standard dome wall.
Clayton calls her home, Golden Eye. It’s situated on a narrow lot — hence the caterpillar design — about 21-feet above sea level. With storm surge maxing out at 9-feet, Clayton felt she didn’t need to evacuate.
“I stayed during the hurricane,” said Clayton. “If the transformer had not hit me and the neighbor’s house hadn’t exploded, I would have been fine.”
Standard hurricane resistance testing is to fire a 15-pound 2x4 piece of lumber from an air cannon at a window, door, or wall. If the target survives, it’s hurricane resistant.
A normal Monolithic Dome can survive gunfire and even small explosions — let alone a stray 2x4. An early Monolithic Dome home had a dump truck roll backward down a hill and struck the dome with the corner of the truck bed. A typical house would’ve been flattened. The truck left only a small hole, which was quickly repaired.
A transformer weighs between 500 to 1,000 pounds. It wasn’t thrown at the dome with air. It was brought down like a ball and chain with incredible force. It’s difficult to fathom the exponentially larger impact the dome withstood, but it did.
Clayton covered the hole with some plastic sheeting. It will get repaired. Even with the damage, the home is safe. She was protected during the shockingly powerful storm