World’s longest lightning bolts confirmed

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The world record for the longest lightning bolt, and longest-lasting lightning flash, have both been confirmed.

Last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said a lightning bolt that occurred over Brazil on October 31, 2018, was 709km long. This is almost the length of the North Island of Aotearoa.

A longest timespan of a lightning flash occurred over Argentina on March 4, 2019. It has been confirmed as lasting for 16.73 seconds.

The new records more than double the previous known longest flashes, in distance and time. these were held by the United States and France respectively.

A 321km bolt was recorded in Oklahoma in 2007, and a 7.74-second flash in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, in 2012.

The older records were confirmed using “ground-based Lightning Mapping Array networks”. As technology improves, it’s expected they’ll be able to confirm even longer lightning bolts using satellites.

The record for most people killed in a single lightning strike remains 21, when a fatal bolt hit a hut in Zimbabwe in 1975. 

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