VIDEO: 477-Mile-Long Lightning Bolt Sets A New World Record

“These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events.”

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

A whopper of a lightning bolt just rattled the world record books. It stretched across the sky over the United States back in 2020, but has just now been named the longest of its kind.

The stunning strike traveled for 477 miles, to be exact.

The megaflash’s record-breaking designation was announced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which studied satellite data to make the lofty determination. In the end, the findings were published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

“These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for WMO. “Environmental extremes are living measurements of the power of nature, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments. It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”

“Lightning is a major hazard that claims many lives every year,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. “The findings highlight important public lightning safety concerns for electrified clouds where flashes can travel extremely large distances.”

The new record strikes happned in hotspots for Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) thunderstorms, whose dynamics permit extraordinary megaflashes in the Great Plains in North America, and the La Plata basin in South America.

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Matt Sterner

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