Catatumbo lightning

place with more lightning

Venezuela has many fascinating places to explore, one of which is the Catatumbo lightning in Zulia, a place worth visiting as it is a unique natural wonder on Earth. This place has become famous throughout history.

For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to telling you everything you need to know about the Catatumbo lightning, its characteristics and importance.

What is Catatumbo lightning?

catatumbo lightning

The Catatumbo lightning is a unique meteorological phenomenon in the world that occurs in the basin of Lake Maracaibo, the largest lake in Latin America. It consists of a phenomenon in whichhe largest downloads are continually concentrated around the world and occur most frequently between May and November.

The Catatumbo lightning phenomenon is due to:

  • Evaporation of the Maracaibo lake basin.
  • The mountains of the Cordillera de Mérida prevent the clouds from moving.

These two factors cause a large amount of cloudiness to be concentrated in the area, with discharges that occur from dusk to dawn. The best time to see this phenomenon is early in the morning, as this is the time of most downloads and the best time to photograph it.

How to get to the Catatumbo lightning

lightning strike

If you are interested in knowing how to get to the Catatumbo lightning, we are here to show you the route you have to take, depending on where you are, of course.

One of the best ways to get to Catatumbo is with a connoisseur of the area. The most recommended guide is: Alan Hayden, a man who has lived in this place for 25 years, studied, photographed lightning and guided people to watch the show. Without further ado, we are here to give you the route you must follow in Zulia to reach the area of ​​stilt houses where you can see lightning.

The first stop to see the meteorological phenomenon of the Catatumbo lightning is the Puerto de Concha, a town in Zulia state from where the boats leave for the community of Ologá. But for that you have to navigate the river for hours. During the journey you will be able to observe a large number of animal species, especially the various birds and some monkeys in the area.


catatumbo lightning in venezuela

The origin of the formation of the Catatumbo lightning must be found in the trade winds from the northwest-southeast, when entering the depression where the lake is located, colliding with the Sierra de Perijá (border between Colombia and Venezuela) and producing a large amount of low pressure air in the southern part of the region, in the direction of the Ciénagas Creadas on the water mirror.

As a consequence of the discharge of ionized gases, especially methane produced by the decomposition of organic matter in the swamp, which is lighter than air and tends to rise, collisions with the winds that blow from the Andes cause storms and consequent lightning to the clouds.

The first reference to the Catatumbo lightning is the epic La Dragontea by Lope de Vega, published in 1597, about Nombre de Dios. Mayor Diego Suárez de Amaya defeated the British pirate Sir Francis Drake. Described by the Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander Humboldt as "an electrical explosion like phosphorescence...", it was later commented on by the Italian geographer Augustin Kodazzi as "apparently Sully's 'continuous lightning in and around Yahe'".

The main modern study was that of Melchor Centeno, who attributed the origin of thunderstorms to a closed cycle of winds in the region. Between 1966 and 1970, the scientist Andrés Zavrostky, together with assistants from the Universidad de los Andes, carried out three expeditions to Santa Bárbara del Zulia, and concluded that the site would have several epicenters in the marshes of the Ciénagas de Juan Manuel de Aguas National Park. Claras and Aguas Negras to the west of Lake Maracaibo; did not penetrate them. He proposed in 1991 that the phenomenon was produced by the meeting of hot and cold air currents, but he did not rule out uranium as a possible common cause, although this last fact is nothing more than speculation.

Between 1997 and 2000, a team led by Nelson Falcón from the University of Calabobo carried out several expeditions and managed to locate the center of the phenomenon within the Ciénagas de Juan Manuel and produced the first microscopic images of the Catatumbo lightning Physical model, methane identified. As one of the main reasons for this phenomenon, although it is also a general cloud electrification model, it still needs to be confirmed by accurate measurements within the lightning cloud.

Methane also appears to be associated with lightning on Saturn's moon Titan and appears to be associated with other regions of activity. significant electrical atmospheric, such as southern Florida and central Africa. According to this model, the methane originates not only from the Hunan swamps, but also from fractures in the rocky mantle, rich in kerogen III, a product associated with the abundant deposits of light hydrocarbons common in the Lake Maracaibo basin.

In contrast to other hypotheses Different, This is a quantitative model that focuses on the physics of the observed discharges, it is a theory, not just a conjecture about the "clash" of hot and cold air fronts, which can explain precipitation but not the observations to permanent and unusual electrical activity.

No lightning has been seen since January 2010, the longest period without visible lightning in almost a century, and it is feared that it may be gone forever as the country suffers from a severe drought. However, the studies to see if she disappeared showed that she did not disappear, his activity did not cease, it was simply no longer visible to the naked eye, in fact, his usual startles did not subside.

When it happens most often

The lightning occurs some time after sunset, when it starts to get dark or the sky is already dark, but according to the researchers, it is like daytime due to the continuity of the lightning. They said there was about 28 lightning strikes per minute over Lake Maracaibo for nine hours. According to NASA, when it happens, enough energy will be generated to light 100 million light bulbs, and a 10-minute lightning strike in Catatumbo will illuminate all of South America, a phenomenon that has been described several times in the century.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Catatumbo lightning and its characteristics.

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