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Lightning bolt the length of Florida sets new world record

Another megaflash recorded in Argentina lasted for nearly 17 seconds

This bolt coming down over Jacksonville does not compare to the new 440 mile long world record set in Brazil.
This bolt coming down over Jacksonville does not compare to the new 440 mile long world record set in Brazil. (Photo from Ashliegh Riles)

The United States recently handed the world record for longest lightning flash over to Brazil. A separate megaflash set a record in Argentina for the longest reported single lightning bolt duration.

The flash streaked 440 miles, or nearly the length of Florida, when it shot across Brazil in 2018.

A Weather and Climate Extremes committee at the World Meteorological Organization reviewed new satellite lightning imagery technology, and confirmed the new record more than doubles the previous values measured in the U.S. and France.

The previous record for the longest detected distance for a single lightning flash was 199.5 miles on June 20, 2007, across Oklahoma.

Records for both duration and length set over South America.
Records for both duration and length set over South America. (.)

The previous record for duration was for a single lightning flash that lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds over Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, was broken after experts confirmed a 16.73-second-long single lightning flash 16.73 that developed continuously over northern Argentina on March 4, 2019.

Satellite image of record duration of lightning flash, Argentina, March 4, 2019.
Satellite image of record duration of lightning flash, Argentina, March 4, 2019. (WMO)

Lightning claims many lives every year and these findings highlight safety concerns where flashes can travel extremely long distances.

Remember the 30-30 rule – if time between flash and thunder is less than 30 seconds, take cover indoors. And wait 30 minutes after the last observed flash to resume your normal outdoor activities.

These new records are in part due to better storm monitoring tools in the sky.

Researchers detected the lightning from space using the lightning mapper on the new GOES satellite. Its vantage point surpasses previous ground based methods used to study lightning.


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