Lightning ranks among the most impressive weather phenomena. Moreover, we can observe extreme situations, downright records in this area, as was the case in 2020.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just announced two new records broken by lightning last year. The first flash thus extended over a distance of 768km while the other lasted just over 17 good seconds. Just amazing.
With regard to extreme phenomena, despite everything fleeting, progress in terms of observation technologies obviously has a major role in such observations.
A 768 km long flash for the first record
To represent this incredible distance, imagine the difference between Lens and Berlin as the crow flies. And it was a single flash produced by a storm cell that spread between Texas and Mississippi (United States) on April 29, 2020 that did the trick.
For information, the previous record was held by a flash that occurred in a thunderstorm that occurred in Brazil in 2018. The distance recorded by the researchers was then 709 km long. Which was already very impressive.
Read also: We know a little more about the process of lightning formation
This other flash lasted 17.01 s say the researchers
A “megaflash” is what researchers call such a phenomenon. This lightning effect lit up the sky between northern Argentina and Uruguay as part of a thunderstorm that occurred June 18, 2020.
The previous record was held by a flash that produced a visible flash lasting 16.73 s in March 2019, still in the northern part of Argentina.
Lightning hunters are now better armed
According to the researchers who wrote the study presenting these two new records, we are now better off for observing these extreme phenomena. Such observations can also be attributed to technological advances in meteorological observation satellites.
To go beyond the simply “impressive” aspect, the observation of such phenomena and the data collected allow researchers to better understand the processes behind them.
For more details on these two records, a PDF version of the study is available here.