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Record-breaking 'megaflash' bolt of lightning more than 440 MILES long strikes over Brazil

On October 31, 2018, a bolt of lightning measuring 440 miles lit up the night sky over parts of Brazil and experts say it has set a new world record.

The previous record holder spanned 200 miles and struck over Oklahoma in 2007, but this ‘megaflash’ was long enough to connect Chicago to Toronto.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) used new satellite imagery technology to confirm the record-breaking bolt.

Along with the 440-mile-long bolt, the analysis revealed a flash over Argentina in 2019 that lasted nearly 17 seconds, beating out the previous record holder of 7.74 seconds.

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On October 31, 2018, a bolt of lightning measuring 440 miles lit up the night sky over parts of Southern Brazil and experts now say it set a new world record

On October 31, 2018, a bolt of lightning measuring 440 miles lit up the night sky over parts of Southern Brazil and experts now say it set a new world record

Professor Randall Cerveny, chief rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for WMO, said: ‘These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events.’

‘Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable, 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.’

Lightning occurs when strong upward drafts in the air generate static electricity in large and dense rainstorm clouds.

The previous record holder spanned 200 miles and struck over Oklahoma in 2007, but this 'megaflash' was long enough to connect Chicago to Toronto. Pictured is a satellite image of the lightning over Brazil

The previous record holder spanned 200 miles and struck over Oklahoma in 2007, but this ‘megaflash’ was long enough to connect Chicago to Toronto. Pictured is a satellite image of the lightning over Brazil

The 2018 bolt stretched from Argentina all the way out to the Atlantic

The 2018 bolt stretched from Argentina all the way out to the Atlantic

Parts of the cloud become positively charged and others negatively charged.

When this charge separation is large enough a violent discharge of electricity happens in the form of lightning.

The new record-breaking strikes, captured by the American Geophysical Union, were recorded by equipment carried on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and their orbiting counterparts from Europe and China.

‘Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable of, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments,’ said Cerveny.

‘It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.’ 

The new technology may not only help researchers understand the science behind lighting, but also has the potential to save lives. 

 ‘This will provide valuable information for establishing limits to the scale of lightning – including megaflashes – for engineering, safety and scientific concerns,’ said Cerveny.

Using the space-based technology, the team discovered another record-breaker for the longest duration.

In March 2019, a bolt flashed over northern Argentina for 16.73 seconds (pictured is a satellite image), beating out the previous record of 7.74 seconds that hit over France in August 2012

In March 2019, a bolt flashed over northern Argentina for 16.73 seconds (pictured is a satellite image), beating out the previous record of 7.74 seconds that hit over France in August 2012

In March 2019, a bolt flashed over northern Argentina for 16.73 seconds, beating out the previous record of 7.74 seconds that hit over France in August 2012.

Although lightning can put on a stunning display, the WMO revealed the epic bolts claim many lives every year.

In 1975, a single bolt rained down in Zimbabwe and killed 21 individuals – the lightning struck a hut in which a group were sheltering.

Another extreme event occurred in 1994 that killed 469 people in Dronka Egypt.

Lightning tragically struck a set of oil tanks, causing burning oil to flood the town. 








WHY DOES LIGHTNING STRIKE?

Lightning occurs when strong upward drafts in the air generate static electricity in large and dense rainstorm clouds.

Parts of the cloud become positively charged and others negatively charged.

When this charge separation is large enough a violent discharge of electricity happens – also known as lightning.

Such a discharge starts with a small area of ionised air hot enough to conduct electricity.

This small area grows into a forked lightening channel that can reach several miles in length.

The channel has a negative tip that dispels charges to the ground and a positive tip that collects charges from the cloud. 

These charges passes from the positive end of the channel to the negative end another during a lightening flash, causing the charge to be released. 

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Written by Angle News

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