Fascinating, but at the same time dangerous and disturbing: it’s hard to find a better description of lightning. We have all experienced lightning at one time or another, one of the most striking and powerful phenomena Mother Nature has to offer.
The flash we are about to talk about, however, exceeded all expectations, setting a real record and attracting the attention and curiosity of many people. The lightning crossed the United States for 768 km and broke the record of its predecessor, which was shorter by 60 km. Are you ready to take a closer look at this natural wonder?
image credit: NOAASatellites/Youtube Screenshot
Many have dubbed it ” mega flash “, and it’s not hard to see why. In the midst of a massive thunderstorm system, this gigantic lightning flash came to life, crossing the skies of the southern United States for a distance of 768 km, from Houston to the southeast of the Mississippi. Although the phenomenon occurred on April 29, 2020, the World Meteorological Organization did not assign the record to it until early 2022.
And the numbers speak for themselves: this lightning flash exceeded by a good 60 kilometers the previous record holder, another huge lightning bolt that crossed southern Brazil in 2018. Lightning is a surprisingly elusive natural phenomenon and complex because of the impact it has on our daily lives,” said atmospheric scientist Michael J. Peterson, author of the analysis of the mega flash in question. “We have now reached a point where we have excellent measurements of its many facets, allowing us to uncover new aspects of its behavior.”
The images recorded by the GOES-East satellite are, in this regard, to say the least impressive. In the short sequence, we can see the lightning in all its extension. Thanks to space technology, it is possible to observe a very large part of our planet from the sky, which allows having a better overview of events such as this.
And what about the duration? The 768 km lightning, in this case, did not break a record. The record here goes to another mega flash, recorded in June 2020 over Uruguay and northern Argentina, which had an incredible duration of 17.1 seconds. By announcing the details and characteristics of these spectacular natural phenomena, the experts took the opportunity to warn the population against their dangerousness.
“Always be careful, experts remind, because where there is thunder there is also lightning, and they can arrive in seconds. When this happens and you are outside, you should always reach a safe place, such as a vehicle or a well-insulated building, and avoid staying near objects likely to attract it.
According to scientists, there is still a lot to know about these natural phenomena. But accurate mapping will certainly help us recognize them and assess the impact they may have on us. In the meantime, we can only admire, open-mouthed, this enormous and incredible spectacle that nature has offered us.
source used: American Meteorological Society