longest lightning strike

February 1, 2022

Environmental extremes are living measurements of the power of nature, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments.

Prof. Randall Cerveny, rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for the WMO, on the longest lightning strike on record.
  • WMO = World Meteorological Organization
  • The organization named two record-setting “megaflashes” of lightning.
  • The longest lightning strike (by distance) on record stretched 477 miles, occurring in the southern United States in April 2020: “This is equivalent to the distance between New York City and Columbus Ohio in the United States or between London and the German city of Hamburg.”
  • The greatest duration of a lightning strike lasted 17.102 ± 0.002 seconds from a storm crossing Uruguay and Argentina.

Why It Matters: The Associated Press reports these records are not linked to climate change, but better data. And while these strikes occurred cloud-to-cloud, the records serve as an important reminder: “Lightning is a major hazard that claims many lives every year. The findings highlight important public lightning safety concerns for electrified clouds where flashes can travel extremely large distances,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

49 people on average die every year in the U.S. related to lightning strikes

Announcement by the World Meteorological Organization

by Jenna Lee,