never ending lightning storm, venezuela – Tan Shang Jien

Catatumbo Lightning

In most places the occurrence of thunder and lightning is rare, but in Venezuela it’s the most common thing in the world. As a matter of fact, there are almost as many days per year with electrical storms as there are without. There have been so many strikes of lightning per year that this is considered the world’s longest continuous storm.

The Catatumbo Lightning, as it’s called, is estimated to produce over 1,000,000 bolts of lightning every year, and since the storm never changes position, if you live in the region, you’d be able to see every single one.

The intensity of the Catatumbo Lightning is rarely seen outside of tropical storms. The bolts can be upwards of 400,000 amps each, and can be seen up to 400 kilometers away. Not only is the storm active 150 days each year, but of those days it can last upwards of 10 hours per day. As a result of it’s consistency and stationary position, the storm has also been dubbed “The Maracaibo Beacon”, and has been helping with the navigational efforts of ships for centuries.


Aside from being really something to watch and providing navigational assistance, the phenomenon is one of the world’s largest producers of ozone. With all of this lightning, one might be inclined to think that there would be copious amounts of thunder. In the case of the Catatumbo Lightning, this is not the case. As a matter of fact, there is very little thunder to be heard at all! The reason for this is that the lightning is going from cloud to cloud, and only very rarely reaches the ground.


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