Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lake Maracaibo's Catatumbo Lightning

Venezuela's Catatumbo River, located in northwestern Venezuela in the state of Zulia, has set the Guinness Book of World Records for highest number of lightning per square kilometer per year.

Where is Catatumbo?

Storm Chaser, George Kourounis travels to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela where a phenomenon known as the Catatumbo Everlasting Lightning storm occurs. On most nights of the year, thunderstorms form over the same part of the lake ,with dazzling displays of lightning. Filmed as part of the "Angry Planet" TV series.

The Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon in Venezuela. It occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. The frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are said to be the world's largest single generator of tropospheric ozone. Nonetheless, that fact has not been demonstrated.

It originates from a mass of storm clouds at a height of more than 1 km, and occurs during 140 to 260 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour. It occurs over and around Lake Maracaibo, typically over the bog area formed where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake.

The Catatumbo Lightning changes its frequency along the year, and it is different from year to year. For example, it ceased from January to March 2010, apparently due to drought, temporarily raising fears that it might have been extinguished permanently.