High winds? Earthquake? Lightning? Those may be the first
things that come to mind when you think of natural causes of
structural damage, but don't forget meteorites. While a lot
less common than the first three, they do happen. In fact, 2003
was an unusually productive year for meteorite strikes, with at
least four houses punctured by falling space rocks in the
United States alone.
The meteorite that struck this suburban
Chicago home broke into several pieces after hitting a roof
truss and punching through the ceiling drywall (left). After
ripping through the venetian blind and crashing off the
aluminum window sill, the largest fragment ricocheted off the
floor and shattered a mirrored closet door (right).
Fortunately, the homeowners' teenage son — asleep in
bed a few feet away — was not injured.
The 40-pound stone that punched through
the roof of this New Orleans home passed through an upstairs
bedroom, where it destroyed an antique desk and chair. It then
tore through the newly remodeled downstairs powder room ("We
didn't even have the toilet paper holder in place yet," the
homeowner recalls) before breaking up against the crawlspace
Three of the strikes occurred early on the morning of March
27, when a minivan-sized meteor broke apart as it entered the
atmosphere, spraying chunks of shattered rock over the south
Chicago suburbs of Park Forest and Olympia Fields. In a fourth,
separate incident on September 23, a basketball-sized stone
blasted through a house on a quiet street in New Orleans.
A second Chicago-area strike tore a
ragged hole in the kitchen floor (left). The meteorite was
recovered in a pile of clothes in the basement laundry room,
with a scrap of vinyl flooring fused to its surface