“There is peace even in the storm” – Vincent Van Gogh
Involuntary elation is a thing of beauty. We all harbor exhilaration triggers, a uniquely personal, undeniably human emotional response to unexpected experiences. One of my earliest childhood memories is an emotional response to severe weather. A oppressively hot summer afternoon dotted with ritual counting of seconds between lightening strike and thunderous percussion. Inclement perfection culminating in the mother of all thunderstorms. To this day every hair on my body stands in awe of stormy punctuation.
Great cover by the Violent Femmes – Sunday night inspiration for a ponder. Listening to this while the wind howls outside, our first kick ass punch of the season finds me chilling to “Crazy” as I sop up our flooded basement.
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.