A bolt of lightning that stretched about 770 kilometers (about 478.5 miles) across three US states has established a new world record. This spectacular megaflash broke the previous record by over 70 kilometers, according to the World Meteorological Organization (43.5 miles). The UN body has reported two record-breaking incidences, one of which being this extreme weather event.
On April 29, 2020, a megaflash struck a region of the United States notorious for strong storms. The flash spanned a horizontal distance of 768 kilometers, according to the World Meteorological Organization (477.2 miles). The bolt of lightning spanned Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. To put things in perspective, the distance between London and Hamburg, Germany, or New York City and Columbus, Ohio, according to the organization.
The previous record holder was a 700-kilometer-long lightning bolt in Brazil (440 miles). That catastrophe happened in 2018, and it set a new record for the most people killed in a single occurrence. The lengthening of these megaflashes is a strong indication that weather is becoming more intense.
“Environmental extremes are live indicators of nature’s strength, as well as scientific advancement in making such judgments.” Even higher extremes are expected to emerge, and as lightning detection technology improves, we will be able to witness them,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, WMO’s rapporteur on Weather and Climate Extremes.
The World Meteorological Organization also established a second world record, this time for the longest duration of a single flash. On June 18, 2020, a flash developed continuously through a thunderstorm over Uruguay and northern Argentina, setting a new record of 17.102 seconds. This was 0.37 seconds faster than the previous record from 2019, which was also set in Argentina.
These stunning phenomena serve as a reminder of the power of weather and the significance of being safe. “Lightning is a serious threat that kills a lot of people every year.” “The findings emphasize critical public lightning safety issues for electrified clouds, where flashes may travel exceptionally long distances,” WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas remarked.
To keep safe, travel to a lightning-safe area anytime thunder is heard or lightning is reported within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Not a beach or a bus stop, but a structure with considerable electrical and plumbing. If it isn’t an option, a fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle is the next best thing.