Brazil “Megaflash” lightning sets world record.

Dramatic nature background – bright lightnings in dark stormy sky 123rf.com

From PHYS.ORG

The UN’s weather agency announced Thursday the longest lightning bolt on record—a single flash in Brazil on October 31, 2018 that cut the sky across more than 700 kilometers.

Full article here.

I remember, on a drive to Phoenix as a teenager, lightning bolts that took several seconds to travel across the horizon. I thought at the time they were hundreds of miles long. I was probably correct. I never researched it — d’oh!

32 thoughts on “Brazil “Megaflash” lightning sets world record.

  1. 700 km! Why do I find that hard to believe? Would have to follow the curvature of the earth like long wave radio signals.

    • Lightning follows charged particles. Charged particles are found in thunderstorms. Thunderstorms follow the curvature of the earth.

      Lightning doesn’t follow a straight line. Witnessing even one should be enough to drive that point home.

      • well, sometimes out here in the high desert during monsoon storms we get tremendous ground stikes that looks straight as a laser beam. Other times, like a spiderweb. I saw sprites during one storm about 15 years ago.

      • Only the coulombs of charge can be explained by the charged particles and their separation which are on the order of 10’s to 100’s of coulombs. Volts are Joules per coulomb and it takes a billion or so volts to break down the air between a cloud and the ground. Consistent with my hypothesis on the origin of planetary magnetic fields, the Joules in a lightning bolt come from differential gravitational fields between the clouds and the planet.

    • I don’t buy it either; discounted completely I think are the physics of how and why a ‘stroke’ occurs (stepped leader, return stroke, etc.)

      Lightning is not an “un-studied” phenomenon. What they may have observed was coincidence of strokes occurring very quickly in succession, perhaps their (each individual lightning stroke’s) electric field even helping with the successive, casacading initiation, BUT, that is different from having a single 700 km “stroke”.

  2. “In recent years, measurements of lightning have become more extensive and new satellite instruments have further enhanced measurement coverage. Lightning can be used as a proxy for monitoring severe convection and precipitation, improving estimates of severe storm development, evolution and intensity, and hence provide early warnings for severe weather phenomena. In addition, lightning itself impacts the global climate by producing nitrogen oxides (NOX), which have a strong influence on ozone formation. In regard to climate monitoring, lightning is thought to be a valuable indicator to track and understand trends and extremes in convective events under climate change …”.
    https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=6262
    More extensive measurements = climate change.

    • re: “Lightning can be used as a proxy for monitoring severe convection and precipitation, improving estimates of severe storm development, evolution and intensity, and hence provide early warnings for severe weather phenomena.”

      GREAT. You tell us that *now* after we have built -out this extensive network of RADARS that cost a pretty-penny to maintain (and upgrade; we’ve had what – two or three ‘upgrade’ cycles now)/

      ‘course, I’ve been a lightning fan for decades; as a kid in the late 60’s I noticed I could get a DF bearing on a storm using the AM broadcast band using my Sears AM-FM-SW 4-band portable radio …

      Here in Texas one can EASILY in real-time (as opposed to the 4 or 5 minute update cycle of the local NEXRAD WSR-88D RADAR) note the rapid development of a lightning storm by listening to LW or AM broadcast band radio tuned to an “empty” channel.

      • All my frequencies are empty here, I try to get KFI 640 (LA) and I’m listening to an electrical storm, somewhere, not even in view.

    • Chris Hanley
      June 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      “…under climate change …” = give us more money to study this quick!

  3. With such a short period to develop a climatology on length as well as duration records (~700 km and ~17 sec), and seeing as there have already been changes to detection methods in that short period, it seems to me that we still don’t know what an all-time (before the period of “record “) megaflash is like, and that as recorded history increases with time, these records will be routinely broken. But, we’re probably seeing the order of magnitude that exists for these outlier events. One would expect these to be routinely occurring (at least one per decade?), and over millions of years there have likely been even much longer, and longer lasting, strokes. It makes one wonder what the all-time length and duration records really are. South America must have some powerful thunderstorms.

  4. meh,
    I see that very night here.
    sadly once I wake up its gone…

    LOL serious that is pretty awesome looking.

  5. “The UN’s weather agency announced ”

    If the UN says it is so, then it must be so. /sarc

  6. Lesseenow .. air ionizes at around 1e4 volts/cm (rule of thumb for setting lightning arrestors iirc). That’s 1e6 volts/m times 1e3 (m/km) times 700 km = 7e11 volts. 700,000,000,000 volts.

    A decent Tesla coil should be good for a million volts. So that’s 7e11 / 1e6 = 7e5 Tesla coils. 700,000 Tesla coils. If I could build one Tesla coil per day, it would take me a couple of millennia to complete the job. Darn. Tesla himself would have found a way to do it. Tunguska That’s why he was a world-renowned genius and I’m just an anonymous toiler.

  7. As the solar and Earth’s magnetism decline the atmosphere becomes more ionized – maybe, maybe not.

  8. The UN’s weather agency announced Thursday the longest lightning bolt on record—a single flash in Brazil on October 31, 2018 that cut the sky across more than 700 kilometers.
    I’m sure it was impressive. I don’t question that.
    But just how long has Man been able to measure such things?
    The longest bolt in the last 10 years at a local where instruments were in place to measure it?
    OK.
    (Either way, glad I wasn’t on the receiving end!)

  9. In late summer 2008, I was driving from West Virginia to Maryland in one of the most amazing thunderstorms I’ve ever seen. To the due east, cloud to cloud lightning flashed horizon to horizon – the biggest lightning flashes I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty. Though low rumbling sound reached me, it was so uncorrelated with the lightning that I have to think the latter was itself at the horizon limit.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at 100 mile + strokes of lightning. But 700 km? It just doesn’t seem credible.

  10. The electric universe is alive and well. Our decreasing magnetic field on Earth interacting with the solar wind and coronal holes on the Sun can provide all kinds of light shows.

  11. Do you think it might have something to do with an excessive amount of dust blowing in from Africa. Sand is largely silicon, which is a semiconductor. Add some air humidity and voila?

  12. Look south from Buffalo NY during many cold winter nights, and watch lightning over Lake Erie thread eastward through the line of snow squalls, pass inland, and then continue eastward, inland for a great distance. A few decades ago, I lived a few miles south of Orchard Park NY and seeing that lightning promised a very difficult drive as I approached my house.

  13. Well, I guess 700 km beats our record:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/oklahoma-had-the-longest-lightning-strike-on-record

    Oklahoma Had The Longest Lightning Strike on Record

    FIONA MACDONALD

    19 SEPTEMBER 2016

    The United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has just announced that the longest lightning strike on record was a 2007 bolt in Oklahoma that stretched 321 km (200 miles) – almost reaching from one side of the state to the other.

    end except

    Records are made to be broken. 🙂

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