Experts disagree on lightning deflection measures as Florida cities invest in new technology

Experts are divided on whether it’s possible to prevent lightning strikes, as Florida cities invest in suppression systems. 

A meteorologist with the National Lightning Safety Council contacted FOX 35 after we covered the city of Cape Canaveral’s investment in lightning suppression systems on its city buildings, spending $68,000 to arm four city buildings. 

Chris Vagasky is a scientist who says storm clouds are too big, and lighting is too powerful for a device that fits in someone's hand to prevent it. He says lightning rods are the best option. 

The City of Cape Canaveral responded, saying it is committed to resiliency. It has already been using lightning rods but has also decided to invest in suppression technology to keep its community safe. 

"With this, we’re able to prevent lightning from striking pretty much any structure from a house to a tower to anything you can think of," said Jay Kothari, the president of EMP Solutions, which makes the technology Cape Canaveral purchased. 

Kothari told us this when FOX 35 News first looked into his lightning suppression system last week on the roof of City Hall. 


"This is not a lightning rod. This is kind of the opposite of a lightning rod," said Kothari. 

That’s precisely what worried lightning expert Chris Vagasky. 

‘You invest in these tried and true technologies like lightning rods," said Vagasky. "You cannot predict when and where it’s going to strike, and the second one is, you cannot prevent it."

He is a meteorologist who studies lighting data and a safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council. He says the lighting is too strong, and the devices are too small.

"They just don’t work. There’s so much electricity between the cloud and the ground that a single device or even a cluster of these devices cannot dissipate that much electricity," said Vagasky. 

Since installation, the City of Cape Canaveral says none of its buildings have been hit by lightning, and the CEO is confident in his product.

"This has been around for about 25 years. We've had a great track record, and we keep modifying it," the CEO concluded. 

FOX 35 also received a new statement on Wednesday from the CEO of EMP Solutions: "The National Lightning Safety Council is an organization that actively protects the lightning rod industry and has, on a broad scale, refused to acknowledge any alternative technology. Their members have great credentials and come from varying backgrounds. Many have been with NOAA/NWS in their past or current roles and probably don’t even know we protect a NOAA facility."