Heading out, in search of Earth’s worst storm, proved daunting. Much is a matter of opinion, the most deaths, highest clouds, longest duration, most lightning strikes. Along the way I found some interesting facts. Venezuela boasts the world’s largest lightning storm. Active almost half the year, with storms lasting up to 10 hours, over 1,000,000 lightning strikes are recorded every year. So spectacular, Venezuela is trying to have the region declared a world heritage site. The phenomenon results from the Catatumbo River passing through a bog as it enters Lake Maracaibo: this produces methane gas, lighter than air – it rises into the atmosphere, colliding with wind off the Andes Mountains. The storm clouds can reach 6 miles high.
Statistically 80% of all deaths by lightning are males between 15 and 40 years old. The energy from one lightning bolt could power a 100 watt light bulb for 3 months. Most storm fatalities are due to flash floods or flooding. The burn pattern from a lightning strike resembles a fern frond.
It’s well worth pondering the power of nature…..
The first link is for the Venezuela phenomenon, the second explains storms, courtesy the NOAA
Photo by Carsten Peter for National Geographic.