Lightning Rolls Along the Rebar of a Dome Home

Newly Finished Southern Towers Monolithic Dome Home.

The Southern Towers dome home is a beautiful example of the design freedom inherent to the Monolithic Dome. The house is made up of four domes and is partially underground.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

Watching the Storm.

The homeowners watched in fascination as the rain flew across the roofs of their home during the storm that produced the bolt of lightning that ultimately struck their home.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

Crash! A storm had been raging for almost an hour, hail pounding the windows, when thunder roared as lightning struck hard against a Monolithic Dome home.

“We looked out the six-foot arched window where we sit to drink coffee and saw a flash of light in an explosion so strong that 1000 yards away, a neighbor’s house shook,” the homeowner said. “My mom was in a tornado shelter inside her house near us, and that bolt was so loud she heard it. It blows my mind that we never felt it.”

The home is partially underground with multiple heights, and lightning struck at the highest level. Electric current sizzled, burning a hole through the PVC fabric and the foam layer, then hastened to the rebar beneath the foam.

“I work cleaning up after catastrophes, and I never have known a house to get hit by lightning and not burn up until now,” the homeowner said. “In my business, we say we make it like it never even happened—and it was like it never even happened.”

They had been doing biostabilization of the bank of the river near their home, and at first, they thought the lightning might have hit the excavator or skid steer. Instead, a direct hit had slammed into the tallest of their three domes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assert that 40 million lightning bolts touch down in the USA every year. Although the chances of an individual being struck are one in a million, lightning caused $950 million in insurance claim damage in 2022, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Lightning can split concrete, wood, or cinder blocks, but this jolt left only a hole. The homeowners sent their drone camera up to take a look.

Damage from a Lightning Strike.

This tear in the Airform was caused by the lighting hitting the dome. This must have been a mighty bolt of lightning. It caused more damage than we typically see on a dome from a lightning strike. The owners said their ears were ringing after it hit.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

The homeowners filmed the wild storm while drinking coffee and following the news of nearby tornadoes.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

“It looks like a ruffled bandaid on top of a bald head,” reported the homeowners.

They contacted Mike South of Monolithic, and he figured out a patch to repair the sizzled spot. Lightning can cause surge damage, with melted outlets and appliances failing or a house fire. Once the lightning got to the rebar interlaced throughout the dome, the electric force snaked along the metal rebar into the footing. Since the rebar conducts electricity with such efficiency, the bolt of lightning zipped harmlessly through it to the ground. It’s similar to how cars are safe from lightning because the metal directs the lightning around the people and into the ground.

The family home emerged essentially healthy but for the small scorch, and she feels safe from the elements in her unique dome home.

“We wanted something special,” the homeowners said. “We wanted to have peace of mind, and we wanted it to be nice.”

Southern Towers Twilight.

The telltale pink of twilight looms over this gorgeous and unique home.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

Attractive Transitional Tunnel.

Using a fluid system like Airforming creates many architectural opportunities. This dramatic, arching hallway is an example of that.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

The home is composed of four domes, all of which are on stemwalls. The house is partially underground. The individual domes are connected via tunnel connectors built into the Airform. The four domes are the following sizes:

  • 38′ × 7′ on an 18′ stemwall
  • 14′ × 3′ on a 30′ stemwall
  • 30′ × 5′ on a 10′ stemwall
  • 30′ × 5′ on a 9′ stemwall

They have one large extended augment for the garage door and two smaller extended augments for cozy book nooks.

“We have tunnels for hallways with reading nooks in the hallways. We built two because we knew as we got old, we would fight over them, and now we have two grandchildren who enjoy them.”

The homeowners designed the house themselves, with help from designers and the team at Monolithic. The silo dome has a tall, thin staircase and a main floor with higher views all the way around, and when lightning struck, the homeowners were in the big dome toward the front.

They know that other domes have survived lightning strikes unscathed. In 1979, the second Monolithic Dome ever built was hit by lightning in Eureka, Kansas. Boyd Stewart, who owned the dome with his wife, Maxine, repaired the divot with a bit of caulk.

“Now we understand why domes are said to be so good in all kinds of inclement weather. It has lived up to our expectations, and it’s beautiful. We’re so grateful every day that we get to live here,” the homeowners reported.

Extended Augment Creates Cozy Window Seat.

This cozy window seat and functional entryway were created with an extended augment built into the Airform. The homeowners took full advantage of the tunnels and augments and created beautiful transitional areas.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

A Retro Stove in a Modern Kitchen.

The retro stove takes center stage in this custom kitchen. The wood beams and countertops warm up the industrial feel of the commercial-grade fridge and stainless sink.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

The Great Room is Ready for Furniture.

A solitary lounge chair served as seating before the homeowners moved in their furniture. Dome structures are incredibly strong, thus we can cut out large sections of the dome for glass window openings like these.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

A Small Shower Tucked into an Alcove.

This small shower is big on style. The brick pattern rectangular tiles are a classic. The Homeowners continued their signature style of chrome and wood here, creating a timeless look with contrast.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

A Doorway and Work of Art Combine.

The Homeowners love this fun, custom Hobbit-style door. This door opens into the tower dome, which boasts a dramatic, winding staircase to the top.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

Wood and Metal.

The wood accents in this home bring a softness to the polished concrete floors and metal accents.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media

A Rooftop Green Space.

An interesting project for this home is the rooftop turf over the garage. The garage door is set inside a large extended augment. The garage has about 800 square feet.

The Homeowners / Submitted Media