Venezuela's everlasting lightning storm enters book of records
Venezuela’s Catatumbo lightning phenomenon has entered into the Guinness Book of World Records
This year Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning was approved for inclusion in the 2015 edition of Guinness World Records, dethroning the Congolese town of Kifuka as the place with the world's most lightning bolts per square kilometre each year at 250.
So what causes such a powerful storm to develop in the same spot, up to 300 nights a year?
Scientists think the Catatumbo, named for a river that runs into the lake, is normal lightning that just happens to occur far more than anywhere else, due to local topography and wind patterns.
Lake Maracaibo basin is surrounded by mountains that trap warm trade winds coming off the Caribbean.
These winds crash into cool air spilling down from the Andes, forcing them up until they condense into thunderclouds creating an average 28 lightning strikes per minute across a wide area – an energy burst that could power all the light bulbs in Latin America.
History books show the lightning has played a significant role in Venezuelan history, helping thwart at least two nocturnal invasions of the country.
The first attempt was in 1595 when it illuminated ships led by Sir Francis Drake of England, revealing his surprise attack to Spanish soldiers in Maracaibo. The other was during the Venezuelan War of Independence in 1823, when it betrayed a Spanish fleet trying to sneak ashore.