Lightning can be a scary thing. Remember, like Chad Brock taught us in country radio's unlikely '98 smash, "thunder's just the noise, boys, lightning does the work."

Thanks, Chad.

So apparently sometimes it takes a couple of years to confirm meteorological records, because a lightning bolt from 2020, one that reached nearly 500 miles across three states has been named the the new record holder for longest flash.

Today the World Meteorological Organization announced that a single bolt in 2020 stretched for 477 miles across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. WOW. And just in case you were wondering what a normal lightning flash is like; normally they last less than a second and don't stretch more than 10 miles.

“These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events. Environmental extremes are living measurements of the power of nature, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments. It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for WMO.

And it's not like they figured this out with a stopwatch, it's super official. WMO used the latest satellite technology, WMO’s Committee on Weather and Climate Extremes, which maintains official records of global, hemispheric and regional extremes recognized.


The same story also shared this bit of information, as other previously accepted WMO lightning extremes are:

  • Direct strike: 21 people killed by a single flash of lightning as they huddled for safety in a hut in Zimbabwe in 1975.
  • Indirect strike: 469 people killed in Dronka Egypt when lightning struck a set of oil tanks, causing burning oil to flood the town in 1994.

Y'all be safe out there.

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