Lightning crackles over Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela in this long-exposure shot from 2014. Jorge Silva/Reuters

Nocturnal thunderstorms occur almost 300 days of the year on Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo.

Astraphobes who dive under their beds at the first rumblings of a storm should stay away from Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, as it’s just been verified as the most lightning-cursed place on the planet.

Researchers from Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo, NASA, and elsewhere poured through 16 years of space observations to give this honorific to what some call South America’s biggest lake (technically, it’s more of a bay or lagoon). Thunderstorms occur an average of 297 nights a year, triggered by a “deep nocturnal convection driven by locally forced convergent flow,” according to a study in this month’s Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Here’s more from the society’s blog:

Imagine being awoken late one night by the near constant glow of lightning overhead—often flickering silently but occasionally rumbling deeply with a strike nearby. Then it happens the same time the next night—and the next, and the next, sometimes lasting for many hours at a time.

Now imagine the nocturnal fireworks happening nearly 300 days per year....

Storms mostly form during the nighttime hours, after the tropical heating of the day allows warm Caribbean air to mix with colder Andes Mountain air. According to the [study], “Nocturnal thunderstorms over Lake Maracaibo are so frequent that their lightning activity was used as a lighthouse by Caribbean navigators in colonial times.”

Last year, Guinness World Records announced Lake Maracaibo had the world’s highest concentration of lightning; this new study gives peer-reviewed weight to the claim. The previous champion of lightning flashes, the town of Kifuka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now comes in at second place with about 158 bolts zapping each square kilometer a year.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  2. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  3. A man wearing a suit and tie holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
    Life

    The New Geography of American Immigration

    The foreign-born population has declined in U.S. states that voted Democratic in 2016, and increased in states and metros that voted for Trump.

  4. James Mueller (left) talks to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right)
    Equity

    South Bend’s Mayoral Election Could Decide More than Pete Buttigieg's Replacement

    Pete Buttigieg's former chief of staff, James Mueller, is vying with a Republican challenger to be the next mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×