Venezuelan lake takes over as world's lightning capital

Venezuelan lake takes over as world's lightning capital

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There is a new lightning capital of the world, according to a study using observations for the Lightning Imaging Sensor on NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission.

According to, the honor goes to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The study shows that the area receives an average rate of 233 strikes per square kilometer per year. The previous area with the most lightning strikes per year was Africa's Congo Basin.

To figure out the busiest locations with respect to lightning, the researchers put together a high resolution data set that was derived from 16 years of space based LIS observations. They had this to say in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society:

"We can now observe lightning flash rate density in very fine detail on a global scale," said Richard Blakeslee, LIS project scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

"Better understanding of lightning activity around the world enables policy makers, government agencies and other stakeholders to make more informed decisions related to weather and climate."

Maracaibo is the largest lake in South America. Storms often form there at night when the mountain breezes pick up and bump into the warm and moist air over the lake. This results in an average of 297 overnight thunderstorms per year with a peak during the month of September.

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