2 Lightning Bolts Enter the Record Books

One flashed for nearly 500 miles in the US, the other lasted about 17 seconds in South America
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2022 2:45 PM CST
2 Lightning Bolts Enter the Record Books
Stock image of a lesser bolt.   (Getty/Believe_In_Me)

Most flashes of lightning are gone in the blink of an eye and forgotten. And then there are these two beasts, newly entered into the record books by the World Meteorological Organization.

  • Length: On April 29, 2020, a single "megaflash" of lightning covered a distance of 477 miles over the skies of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, reports the BBC. That breaks the previous record-holder of 441 miles, logged in Brazil.
  • Duration: Two months later, a megaflash that lasted 17.1 seconds was recorded in South America, over Uruguay and Argentina, per NPR. That edged the previous record of 16.7 seconds over Argentina.
  • More to come? "A megaflash is a really, really big lightning flash," the WMO's Randall Cerveny tells CNN. "Most lightning flashes in storms travel only a few miles or so. A megaflash can extend for hundreds of miles." He adds that improvements in lightning-detection technology will likely lead to more records in the near future.
(Read more lightning stories.)

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