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.
“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.”
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.