What to do with your aerials during a storm...
The first thing to do is get yourself out of the shack and into the nearest pub. Seriously, lightning can be and is extremely dangerous. Let's forget about direct hits because, if you have one, you probably won't be around to tell the tale. With any local storm, or heavy rain, for that matter, static will build up on your aerial. Once the voltage is high enough, it will flash over to earth somewhere. The first thing to do is make sure that the static has an escape route so that it can drain away continuously rather than built up. How? Earth the aerial.
People have been talking a load of balls after the recent storms. Someone said that it was best not to live near a church. This is probably one of the safest places because all churches have lightning conductors. No, no, no. Lightning conductors are not there to be struck. That is not the idea. They are there to leak away any static build up, thus preventing a strike.
Here's a little circuit, on the left, that I've been meaning to knock up for some time. The idea is that, whenever the HF radio is switched off, the relay de-energizes and shorts the aerial to earth.
This is for draining the charge that builds up during heavy rain or static. It WILL NOT protect the radio if a storm is really close. The only way to do that is disconnect the radio from the aerial.
The beauty of the relay idea is that you'll never forget to ground the aerial when you switch off and leave the shack.
Here's a good link if you're into lightning strikes...