Last summer multiple fire departments responded when lightning struck the roof of a Lindale, Texas home and the structure caught fire. Area residents said they heard a loud boom, then a crackle. When the fire department arrived, flames were shooting from a hole in the mobile home, and the fire spread quickly. No one was at home, but the roof curled inward on the blaze. Fire, smoke and the water used to put it out ruined the structure.
Lightning Strike Probabilities
A lightning strike is a huge electrical discharge. You see the light and hear the noise it makes as thunder. One strike can be over five miles long and increase air temperature by up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
An average of 25 million lightning strikes extend from the clouds to the ground during Earth’s approximately 100,000 annual thunderstorms. Experts say the planet gets inundated by up to 100 lightning strikes per second. Somewhere around the globe, there’s always an electrical discharge due to weather.
The National Lighting Safety Institute collects data on how, when and where lightning strikes occur. The odds of lighting striking a house are greater than the odds of lightning striking an individual because homes are much, much bigger than just one person. The Institute says when lightning hits within ten meters of a home, it’s considered a direct strike. That means one out of every 200 homes could potentially be struck in a year.
When Lightning Strikes Your Roof
When a lightning bolt hits, it follows the path of least resistance to the ground. Your home is full of possible pathways in the form of wiring, plumbing, metal door and window frames and other utility lines. There’s no rule that says lightning has to choose just one path. It could strike the roof and flow through both electrical lines and gutters. If lightning strikes your roof you might experience the following:
- Fire danger — Call the fire department immediately if you suspect a strike. Anything combustible can ignite. Ofte fires start in the attic and aren’t detected right away. Fires can start within your walls and not be visible until it is a strong blaze.
- Electrical surge damage — When lightning floods your home’s wiring, the current is much stronger than the system is designed to accommodate. Anything connected can be destroyed.
- Secondary shock wave damage — Lightning strikes superheat the air around them. Moisture in the air turns to steam and expands. When that moisture expands in concrete or wood, it can damage structures.
Staying Safe During Thunderstorms
If you hear thunder, you’re within 10 miles of a lightning strike. Stay away from windows and doors and avoid anything that conducts electricity. One of the most common lightning-related injuries occurs when people use their landline telephone during a thunderstorm. Outside lightning can travel through metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside electrical wiring and plumbing can also act as conductors. Avoid your washer, dryer and dishwasher since they’re collected to both wiring and plumbing (use this opportunity to avoid both laundry and dishes!)
Unplug computers and televisions to protect them in case of a surge. Even if your TV is plugged into a surge protector, it’s unlikely to survive a direct strike.
When to Call For Help
At Advantage Roofing, we can help you protect your home if it’s damaged by lightning and repair any damage to your roof. Get in touch for a free roofing evaluation.