Mysterious Venezuela's Catatumbo Lightning

Jun 14, 2010 3 comments

You must have heard that lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice. Say that to the natives of Venezuela and they will ride you down to the mouth of river Catatumbo and let you watch the spectacular lightening show of your life. The Catatumbo Lightning is one of the coolest natural phenomenon on earth. It occurs strictly in an area located over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. Over this relatively small area powerful flashes of lightening more than 5 km in height strike at surprising frequency - during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour.

Catatumbo-lightning (4)

The Catatumbo Lightning is likely to be caused by ionised gases - specifically the methane created by the decomposition of organic matter in the marshes - rising from a swamp to meet cooler air descending from the Andes Mountains. The meeting of the two currents creates an electrical charge that is discharged as lightening. The lightning is seen most often in the afternoons, when evaporation is greatest.

This phenomenon, also known with the popular name of the Lighthouse of Maracaibo, is easy to be seen from hundreds of miles away. These thunderstorms have a beneficial effect on the earth’s ecosystem too because they produce a high percentage of all the ozone production worldwide. The Catatumbo lightning can be considered a major regenerator of the planet's ozone layer, as it produces approximately 1,176,000 kW of atmospheric electricity.

Catatumbo-lightning (5)

Catatumbo-lightning (1)

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  1. Amazing! I wonder if people are allowed to go there when there is a storm. I think it is dangerous since lightning can strike you.

  2. Amazing pictures. I wonder how they took those pictures.

  3. kaushik if ur in india then i would like to meet u some day.....
    great job...


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