The U.N.’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), says it has verified two “megaflashes” of lightning in South America that set records for longest distance and longest duration.
The WMO says on its website Friday its Committee on Weather and Climate Extremes used new satellite lightning technology to verify that an October 31, 2018 lightning bolt that started in southern Brazil traveled just over 709 kilometers.
The WMO says the longest recorded duration for a lightning flash was 16.73 seconds set on March 4, 2019 by a flash that developed over northern Argentina.
The agency notes both records are more than double the previous records for distance and duration, set in the U.S state of Oklahoma and in France.
The committee maintains official records on global, hemispheric and regional extremes. The committee’s Professor Randall Cerveny called the records “extraordinary” for single lightning flashes, and just examples of what nature can do. He said they will be valuable baselines for future lightning studies.
The WMO published the lightning records this week, ahead of International Lightning Awareness Day, June 28. It notes lightning is a major hazard that claims many lives every year and the findings highlight important public lightning safety concerns. As a safety tip, the WMO suggests if the time between the flash and thunder is less than 30 seconds, go inside! And wait 30 minutes after the last observed flash to resume outdoor activities.