I wish E-Ham would just install a front page tutorial on station grounding. I would save time and space.
There is a lot of myth about lightning. Lightning basics are not hard to understand and once you learn them the subject becomes much easier to understand.
Commercial antenna installations are constructed following standard lightning protection procedures to mitigate surge potentials. These practices work 99.99 % of the time. Sprint has over 190,000 cell sites and we would lose less than 5 sites a year to lightning. Calculations based on samples indicated we would have over 30,000 site strikes a year. Proper surge protection works very well but there are no short cuts.
Lightning can travel several miles from a charged cloud to the earth when the voltage potential between the cloud and earth can ionize a carbon path for the discharge. If this ground potential is through a house then you will get struck. If your tower presents a greater ground potential then the tower gets struck. If power lines get struck and the lowest impedance connection can be through your AC panel via your ham station, LCD TV, home appliances to the wonderful tower ground you will experence damage. Without an AC panel surge protector, all the home electronics gets fried. Depending on the severity of the strike, several paths can provide a surge path to earth ground.
I have been struck quite a few times and each time the lighting protection procedures put I place have saved the equipment. I have lost fiberglass antennas and have had surge protectors welded short but the hamster equipment was saved.
Lighting surge applications cannot be done half way. A complete and compressive system must be employed for successful surge mitigation.
Please visit the article listed below for more surge protection information. Read the tutorials at Polyphaser.http://www.eham.net/articles/13461
Prepare your station for the strike.