Talk about some shocking news from the sky!
Scientists identified all-time world records for both the longest lightning bolt — nearly 200 miles — and the world’s longest-duration lightning flash — over 7 seconds — according to a report released Thursday.
Both records were certified by the World Meteorological Organization, which is in charge of documenting such things.
The record-long lightning bolt was spotted over Oklahoma on June 20, 2007, and traveled 199.5 miles, about three-quarters the length of the state. That’s almost the distance from New York City to Washington, D.C.
The world’s longest-lasting lightning flash lasted for 7.74 seconds on Aug 30, 2012, over Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.
A report about the records has been accepted for publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
This “reinforces critical safety information regarding lightning, specifically that lightning flashes can travel huge distances from their parent thunderstorms,” said Randall Cerveny, chief Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO and a professor at Arizona State University.
“Our experts’ best advice: when thunder roars, go indoors,“ he said.
The lightning strikes were detected using extremely sensitive radio receivers, Cerveny said, likening it to how AM radio sounds during a thunderstorm, when the static of the lightning discharge can be heard. “We set out these extremely sensitive radio receivers to ‘hear’ a storm, to triangulate exactly where the lightning flash starts and ends,” he said.
So far this year, 35 Americans have been killed by lightning, the National Weather Service said, making it the deadliest year since 2007, when 45 people died.
This is the first time lightning has been included in the official World Meteorological Organization Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which documents records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall and other events.