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Info-pedia / 21 May 2024

Catatumbo Lightning : Info-paedia



Lake Maracaibo’s status as the world’s most lightning-struck location is a testament to the intricate interplay of geographical, meteorological, and environmental factors.

What is Catatumbo Lightning?

  • This phenomenon primarily happens at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, where it meets Lake Maracaibo, the largest lake in Venezuela.
  • Catatumbo lightning is distinguished by its frequency and duration: the strikes occur for up to 160 nights in a year, with an average of 28 lightning strikes per minute at its peak.
  • The area has earned the title of “the lightning capital of the world”.

Reasons for Catatumbo Lightning

  • Warm, moist air from the Caribbean Sea is pushed towards the Andes mountains, where it collides with cooler air descending from the peaks.
  • And as it does, it cools and condenses, forming towering cumulonimbus clouds.
  • Meanwhile, the combination of strong winds and temperature differentials generates electrical charges within these clouds.
  • The cumulonimbus clouds load up on static electricity. When the electrical potential within the clouds becomes too great, it discharges in the form of lightning.