MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -The longest single lightning bolt ever was confirmed at 440 miles long, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This record breaking flash happened in South America on Halloween of 2018. It occurred when a big system of massive thunderstorms bubbled up over southern Brazil. This system spawned one bolt that stretched across 440 miles, from the Atlantic coast all the way into Argentina according to research.
According to research this strike surpassed the previous record of 199.5 miles, set by a flash on June 20, 2007 over Oklahoma. This record-breaking flash and other similar flashes were detected using lightning detection equipment onboard satellites in orbit around the Earth.
WMO’s Committee on Weather and Climate Extremes also announced a new record for longest duration flash which was 16.73 seconds from a flash that occurred over northern Argentina on March 4, 2019. This once again beat the previous record of 7. 74 seconds in 2012 over France.
These record-setting strikes of lightning were not caused by the typical run of the mill thunderstorms, but instead by a huge cluster of thunderstorms. Meteorologist refer to this strong cluster of storms as acting as a “Mesoscale Convective System,” or MCS.
The massive overhanging anvils and raining regions of these monsters have large electrified clouds with low flash rates, which allows charges to build up significantly. When a flash does ignite, it can propagate across a vast distance and for a long duration. Those records had been confirmed using data collected by ground-based lightning networks.