When Lightning Strikes


Has your building every been hit by lightning?

This past Sunday, while I was more concerned with getting another fruity radar image of a pending thunderstorm up on Hoboken411, my building was struck (it was the chimney on the roof). 10 feet from my head, in fact! Bricks from the chimney were found three buildings away.

Power got interrupted, fire alarms went off (really loud in fact), and electronic equipment went haywire.

At first, I thought it was just a regular cable wire surge, but once I realized there was more equipment damaged (and of course the neighbors telling me that our building was hit), it was more than just the cable.

However, I feel lucky, as my list of casualties was shorter than expected:

  • Cable Modem (free replacement)
  • Router ($40)
  • Ethernet Port ($20)
  • Sound Card ($30)
  • DirecTV receiver (free replacement)
  • 5.1 Speakers (not sure yet, ordered a $35 replacement part to see if that’ll solve the problem)

We called the Hoboken Fire Department (after checking to make sure there was no fire) to have them investigate the central fire alarm. They responded and professionally handled this non-emergency situation. They were unable to reset the alarm (needed repair) and shut the power off instead. They were kind enough to install battery-powered smoke detectors on each floor while we waited till the next day to have the system fixed. Great job, HFD!

Lesson learned: The next time I see what I presume to be a serious storm – UNPLUG valuable electronics! Even surge protectors can’t really help a very close lightning strike, even if your building/antenna is properly grounded.

Oh, here’s a fun YouTube video of a tree getting struck by lighting…

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Thursday, July 3, 2008 10:32 am

At about 2:30 this morning there was a huge explosion sound. It woke both my husband and myself out of deep sleep. It wasn’t lightning, we don’t know what the hell it was though.There weren’t any fire or police sirens afterwards, which seemed strange. Maybe a car back firing? It was really loud and scary. I think even too loud for fireworks.

On a separate, but kind of related note, does anyhow know what frequency the town police are using lately? We have not been able to pick up anything on the regular frequencies for a few days.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 5:15 pm

who made the determination the dish and down leads (coax) were properly grounded?

Provided they really were, you should not have had that much, or really any, damage. Lightning travels through the path of lease resistance just like any other electrical current. If the path that was least resistant was through your satellite receiver and other connected gear’s chassis and to the utility ground, that to me says the other ground paths that existed were either not sufficient or non-existent.

The dish itself should be bonded to a ground, and EACH coax, at a point as close as practical to where it enters your house should go through a grounding block ( http://www.fadfusion.com/images/products/large/20/2014/20142400209.jpg ), which is tied in to the same ground as the dish. Both connections should be made with at least #8 AWG solid copper wire. The ground should be either the main utility that your electrical panel is grounded to or ground rod driving in the earth).

For extra protection, as previously mentioned in another post, surge suppressors that protect both telephone and CATV/Satellite wires should also be used, irregardless of grounding as extra insurance.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 4:49 pm

[quote]my building was struck (it was the chimney on the roof). 10 feet from my head, in fact![/quote]

Cable Modem – free replacement
Router – $40
Ethernet Port – $20
Sound Card – $30
DirecTV receiver – free replacement
5.1 Speakers – $35 replacement part

Brand new pair of Hanes – priceless

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 3:44 pm

As far as I know our building wasn’t hit, but the tree in front was struck about 3 years ago. It killed it. We had a contractor come to level the pavers and plant a new tree. He did the pavers but never came back to finish. So, I signed up for a tree through the city Arbor Day program this past spring. Saved us $1,200. 🙂

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