The World Meteorological Organization announced this past month that a 477-mile-long horizontal lightning bolt flashed over Houston – becoming the world’s longest lightning flash.
If you were out and about this month and didn’t see any great streaks in the sky, that’s because the lightning flashed over Houston back on April 29, 2020.
Observed by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather satellite, the 768-kilometer lightning spanned across three states, all the way from southern Mississippi to Chorpus Christi.
In fact, the extreme length of the flash – one that travels over 62 miles – classifies it as a megaflash:
“A mega-flash is a really, really big lightning flash,” said Randall Cerveny, Weather and Climate Extremes reporter for WMO. “Most lightning flashes in storms travel only a few miles or so. A megaflash can extend for hundreds of miles!”
The previously longest lightning flash was 441 miles (708 kilometers) long recorded in southern Brazil in October of 2018.
The World Meteorological Organization also announced another recorded breaking lightning bolt. While the one above Houston broke the record in distance, over in South America, a megaflash lasted for over 17 seconds – setting a world record in the longevity of a lightning flash.
During a thunderstorm over Northern Paraguay and Uruguay on October 31, 2018, a lightning flash spanned up to 17.102 seconds, beating the previous record by less than half a second.
“It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we are able to observe them as lightning technology improves,” said Cerveny.
“But these findings are also important to the general public as a stark reminder that lightning can strike far away from the parent source region.”
See also: 15 Rules To Survive Living In Houston