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Lake Maracaibo: The Place where Lightning Strikes the Most

Lake Maracaibo: The Place where Lightning Strikes the Most
Relmpago del Catatumbo is the Spanish name for Catatumbo Lightning, a phenomenon occurring over lake Maracaibo in northern Venezuela, where lightning strikes more frequently than anywhere else on Earth. It is not very different than any other lightning strike, but the Catatumbo river mouth witnessing it consistently makes it unique.
Rujuta Patil
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2018
Significance of Lightning in Venezuelan History
Lightning strike over a lake
Lightning strike has helped foil two enemy invasions; 1st, in 1595, when ships led by Sir Francis Drake of England, which failed their surprise attack, and 2nd, in 1823 during the Venezuelan War of Independence, when Spanish forces were trying to sneak in.
Catatumbo Lightning Storms
Intense lightning strike, storm clouds
Lake Maracaibo, is a place in northern Venezuela, South America, where lightning strikes the most. It is where the Catatumbo River meets the lake, at the river mouth.
Lightning strikes are seen here around an hour after sunset at the same place almost every night. It is just like any other lightning strike, but the sheer consistency of time and place is a wonder.
Why does lightning strike the most at Lake Maracaibo?
Lake Maracaibo Venezuela Location Map
Closed wind circulation due to the topography is seen as the prime factor behind the lightning strike at Lake Maracaibo. Trade winds off the Caribbean Sea are entrapped between the mountains around the lake.
Winds carrying heat and moisture from the plains, mix with the colder air descending from the Andes, and are condensed into thunderclouds.
Lighthouse of Maracaibo
Lightning strike lights up the sky
The Catatumbo Lightning phenomenon, is also known as the Lighthouse of Maracaibo, as it is visible from a distance of 250 miles. Around 160 days in a year are storm days at Lake Maracaibo.
Forming from a mass of storm clouds, Catatumbo Lightning is said to be the largest generator of tropospheric ozone. Besides, it is a navigational aid to fishermen, as it lights up the sky at night.