New record: Longest mega lightning with 768 kilometers

Status: 02/01/2022 08:47 a.m

A mega-lightning in the USA has set a new record: According to the UN organization WMO, it discharged over a length of 768 kilometers. This roughly corresponds to the distance between Lake Constance and the Baltic Sea.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the longest lightning bolt ever measured stretched over 768 kilometers. The discharge occurred in April 2020 between the US states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

After scientific verification, the record has now been confirmed by the WMO. In addition, the UN organization declared a 17.1-second mega-bolt over Uruguay and northern Argentina in June 2020 as the longest-duration bolt. According to the WMO, the record flashes were measured in regions known for huge thunderstorm complexes.

“Proof of the Power of Nature”

Both records occurred in so-called mesoscale convective systems, which form when thunderstorms combine to form a large thunderstorm complex. The previous record holders were a 709-kilometer flash over southern Brazil in October 2018 and a 16.73-second flash over northern Argentina in March 2019.

The length of the mega lightning in the USA roughly corresponds to the distance between Rostock and Lake Constance. “These are extraordinary records,” said WMO Rapporteur on extreme weather and climate Randall Cerveny. They are “living proof of the power of nature and of the scientific advances in conducting such assessments.”

discharge over long distances

The technology for capturing the length and duration of lightning has improved dramatically in recent years and is now enabling records well beyond what was once the norm. The last mega lightning records from 2018 and 2019 were the first to be verified using the new satellite lightning detection technology.

In this context, the WMO pointed out the “great danger” of lightning. These demanded “many lives” every year, explained WMO boss Petteri Taalas. On the occasion of the records, the UN organization emphasized that lightning can discharge over extremely long distances. If a thunderstorm is ten kilometers away, people should seek shelter in solid buildings or closed vehicles, because lightning can then strike within a few seconds.

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