Flash in the panhandle: record lightning bolt hit Texas and two other states

A bolt of lightning that stretched nearly 500 miles across three US states is the new world record holder for longest flash.

The single flash extended 477.2 miles across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in April 2020, the World Meteorological Organization said. That beat the old record set in 2018 in Brazil of 440.6 miles.

Also in 2020, a single lightning flash over Uruguay and northern Argentina lasted 17.1 seconds, nipping the old time record of 16.7 seconds.

Normally lightning doesn’t stretch farther than 10 miles and lasts less than a second, said Randall Cerveny of Arizona State University, chief of records confirmation for the meteorological organization.

“These two lightning flash records are absolutely extraordinary,” Cerveny said.

Both were cloud-to-cloud, several thousand feet above the ground, so no one was in danger, he said.

The records, which are not linked to climate change, were spotted and confirmed thanks to new satellite tracking technology.

Both regions are among a few places in the world prone to the type of intense storms that can produce what are called “megaflashes”, Cerveny said.

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