Located on the northern coast of South America, Venezuela is known for its diverse natural attractions and also for its wide variety of appetizing cuisines. Referred to as the Lighthouse of Maracaibo, Catatumbo lightning or the “everlasting tempest”: South America’s largest water body, Lake Maracaibo, is not only a prime attraction for nature lovers but a major tourist spot as well.
Fact: The Guinness World Record for the area with the most lightning. It presumably, receives up to 3,600 flashes per hour.
In Spanish it is known as ‘Lago de Maracaibo’ is one of the oldest lakes on Earth, around 20-36 million years old. The region surrounding the lake, Maracaibo basin, contains large reserves of crude oil and is one of the biggest oil exporters in the world. The Catatumbo lightning occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo river where it merges with Lake Maracaibo, which produces more lightning than any other place on the planet. And hence, it is also rightfully known as ‘Lightning capital of the world’.
The diligent flashes are so bright that they can be seen for up to 400 kilometers, and were therefore utilized for quite a long time by Caribbean navigators in colonial times, giving it the nickname “Lighthouse of Catatumbo.” According to NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration), this Venezuelan water body is the site of the highest number of lightning per square kilometer in the world.receiving an average rate of around 233 flashes per kilometer square in the year. Lake Maracaibo receives approximately 300 nightly thunderstorms in a year and has now taken the spot as the location of maximum lightning activity, which was earlier Africa’s Congo basin.
Tthe Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) detects the distribution and variability of total lightning that occurs in tropical regions around the world. This advance sensor can identify short lightning strikes even in road broad daylight, and that’s what makes it so powerful. The lightning produces of zigzag of electrical energy which is so strong that it can light 100 million bulbs. Just ten minutes of Catatumbo Lightning could be sufficient to illuminate all of South America. In 2013, the place was officially known as the place of highest concentration of lightning in the world by the Guinness world records. But this nocturnal, aesthetically pleasing spectacle has a dangerous side as well. The fury of sky tearing lightning claims 2400 lives annually around the world, many of which occur in Lake Maracaibo.
The region is thought to be the world’s biggest Ozone producer, making it a significant player in replenishing of the depleting layer. However, most scientists believe that the ozone produced reaches only the tropospheric atmosphere and never reaches the ozonosphere. Whatever the facts may be, this striking electro-visual theatre of mother nature will continue to amaze and scare people around the world.
1.Feature image: elsalvador.com