Water Main Ruptures After Lightning Strikes LI Steeple

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Authorities said the steeple of a church on Long Island was struck by lightning during the height of Wednesday night’s storm sparking a water main break.

The lightning struck the top of St. Agnes Church in Rockville Centre around 7:20 p.m. and traveled to the ground underneath Clinton Avenue rupturing an 80-year-old water main.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera with residents who heard the lightning strike the steeple

“It was just blown out of the bottom in the middle of the pipe too, it wasn’t at a joint or anything like that,” Rockville Centre Water Department Superintendent Anthony Iannone said.

Rockville Centre Mayor Mary Bossart said a three-inch hole was blown out in the water main.

Residents were shook up after the incident. “My friend and I heard this big explosion and we were so scared,” one woman said.

The water was turned back on early Thursday after it was shut off so repairs could be made to the pipe.  A spokesman for the church said the church itself is fine, but the organ and some electrical equipment were damaged by the strike.

The lightning and thunder that accompanied Wednesday night’s storm were part of a phenomenon called “thundersnow” which is extremely rare.

Snap a few pictures? Send your storm photos to  news@CBSNewYork.com

SEE: Photos from This Storm

More from Mona Rivera
  • Charlie

    Well, that’s nice. The rabidly anti-Catholic diatribes were kept to an acceptable minimum. I’m surprised.

  • john smith

    The Steeple drew the lightening . Tbere’s a metal superstructure under all that brick. …… Remember the Snow Storm is little more than a Rainstorm in ewxtreme cold. Thunder and lightening is going to accompanying.
    How sad otherwise.

  • Jerzey Boy

    Just when you thought you did not need power surge protection, BOOM!

  • eleazar

    And God said, “Can you hear me now?”

  • LindaInUpstateNY

    Yes it’s not that unusual…., up here near Buffalo NY,
    we’ve seen (heard ;-)
    ”Thunder Snow” on many occassions over the years.

  • Dennis in Ohio

    Thunder in a snow storm is NOT that rare – it occurs during heavy snow when the temperature variations are still great in the upper atmosphere in the vicinity of strong low pressure systems. I have seen this occur about once a year and I am in my 60’s, so you could say it is unusual, but not normal during a snow event.

  • Formaer RVC resident

    St Agnes Cathedral, thank you very much.

  • Mark

    Proof that even God hates New York.

  • Mike M

    Great story to remind owners of any tall structure to CHECK YOUR GROUNDING POINTS!!! Most rely on water pipes for grounding and that was generally okay — back in the days of lead pipes.. As more and more water mains are being replaced with plastic – more and more amperes are forced to flow in fewer and fewer remaining metal pipes. Copper sheathed steel rods pounded in over a six feet down into the ground are usually enough but get an expert to check the soil in your area.

  • Russ

    Thats interesting since a number 10 or a number 8 wire is sufficient to ground an elevated metal structure like a lightning rod. Maybe the church was not adequately grounded which could explane damage to electrical facilities within the church. The damage to the water pipe was probably caused by people shouting loudly and stomping their feet on the ground trying to get all the brown stuff to shake itself out of their pants right after the strike.


    …and you speak out of an empty head with a non existent brain. You are a pitiful little thing aren’t you? Yes, yes…

  • ArrDee

    Check out Thunder Snow videos on YouTube. There are a couple of good ones with Jim Cantore.

  • Mike D

    no, God hates 80 year old water mains…

  • est

    make that a

  • Kevin

    “…we were so scared,” one woman said.”
    Oh my-SO SCARED-
    Yet one more example why in reality the US is a non-free, feminized, nanny/police state. Morons….

  • Dr. Bombay

    “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”
    – Voltaire


  • Consultofactus - Lakewood, IL

    Moments afterwards a modified Bricklin was seen driving down Main Street at an excessively high rate of speed.

    • docbrown

      looked like it was doing about 88mph. Also at that time, ComEd reported a 1.21 jigawatt power spike on the grid. Great Scott!

  • Joel

    God hates steeples, apparently.

  • Al Cid

    Re: Lightning direction- There are several types, including ground to cloud AND cloud to ground

    • John C

      That’s new to me. What causes the charge to build up in the earth when lightning travels from the ground to the cloud?

  • Who knew

    This is strange article since lighting travels for the ground up.

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