Found: The World's Longest Lightning Strikes, In Both Length and Time - Atlas Obscura
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Found: The World’s Longest Lightning Strikes, In Both Length and Time

Lightning is a little more intense than we thought.

(Photo: colinedwards99/CC BY 2.0)

Lightning happens in a flash, but that doesn’t mean they are always forgotten. In a recently released paper from the American Meteorological Society (h/t Science Alert) two lightning strikes in particular have been singled for their record setting length and duration respectively.  

The longest (in length) lightning strike on record was determined to have occurred in Oklahoma, back in 2007. The incredible bolt stretched a mind-blowing, 200 miles across the sky. It was so long that researchers are now looking into whether they are going to have to redefine exactly what a lightning strike is, due to the fact that it was previously thought that lightning could only touch down around 20 miles from a storm.

In addition to the Oklahoma strike, a lightning bolt that was recorded around Cote d’Azur, France in 2012 has also been singled out as the longest (in duration) on record. This electrical spark lasted for almost eight seconds, smashing the previous notion that lightning’s duration could rarely exceed one second. This rare lightning also clocked in at an impressive 125 miles in length, stretching between two clouds

The findings took years of comparison of information gathered by Lightning Mapping Array stations across the globe, that try to predict and record lightning strikes by sensing the subtle radiation that precedes them. Of course, the survey can only compare the strikes it records, and the researchers believe that even more incredible lightning flashes probably exist in nature. We just have to catch them.