The lightning bolt stretching 768 km across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in April 2020 is the new world record holder for the longest lightning strike, according to the WMO.
A lightning bolt that stretched 768 kilometers (477.2 miles) across the southern United States in 2020 is the new world record holder for the longest single lightning bolt, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The mega flash stretched across the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on April 29, 2020, breaking the previous record set on October 31, 2018 in Brazil by 709 km (440.6 miles), the l United Nations agency.
Reporting a separate record, WMO said a single lightning strike over Uruguay and northern Argentina on June 18, 2020, lasted 17.1 seconds, eclipsing the old record of 16.7 seconds .
WMO verified 2 new world records for a⚡️lightning #megaflash
Longest single lightning bolt of 768 km (477.2 miles) across the south #UNITED STATES – 60 kilometers MORE than the old record
Maximum duration of 17.102 seconds on #Uruguay and from the north #Argentina https://t.co/6AzyzTgMIO pic.twitter.com/VqUgxEDHB2
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) February 1, 2022
The findings of the WMO Committee on Extreme Weather and Climate Events have been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Professor Randall Cerveny, weather and climate extremes rapporteur for the WMO, described the two records as “extraordinary”.
“Environmental extremes are living measures of the power of nature, as well as scientific advances in the ability to make such assessments,” he said. “It is likely that even greater extremes still exist and we may observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”
Ron Holle, lightning specialist and member of the committee, said: “These extremely large and long duration lightning events were not isolated, but occurred during active thunderstorms. Whenever thunder is heard, it’s time to reach a place safe from lightning.
He added: “The only places protected against lightning are major buildings with wiring and plumbing; not structures such as a beach or a bus stop. The second safe and reliable location is inside a fully enclosed metal roof vehicle; not buggies or motorcycles.
“If lightning is less than 10 km away [6.2 miles] as found with reliable lightning data, go to the building or vehicle secured against lightning. As these extreme cases show, lightning can arrive in seconds over a long distance, but is embedded in larger thunderstorms, so be aware.