World record 199-mile-long lightning bolt confirmed

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has certified both the world’s longest lightning bolt and its longest-lasting lightning bolt.

The longest lightning bolt recorded stretched an astonishing 199 miles over Oklahoma on June 20, 2007. Covering roughly three-quarters of the length of the state, 200 miles is roughly the distance from New York City to Washington DC.

Both records were certified by the World Meteorological Organization, which is in charge of documenting such things.

The record-long lightning bolt was spotted over Oklahoma on June 20, 2007, and traveled 199.5 miles, about three-quarters the length of the state. That’s almost the distance from New York City to Washington, D.C.

The world’s longest-lasting lightning flash lasted for 7.74 seconds on Aug 30, 2012, over Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.

A report about the records has been accepted for publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

This “reinforces critical safety information regarding lightning, specifically that lightning flashes can travel huge distances from their parent thunderstorms,” said Randall Cerveny, chief Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO and a professor at Arizona State University.

“Our experts’ best advice: when thunder roars, go indoors,“ he said.

The lightning strikes were detected using extremely sensitive radio receivers, Cerveny said, likening it to how AM radio sounds during a thunderstorm, when the static of the lightning discharge can be heard.  “We set out these extremely sensitive radio receivers to ‘hear’ a storm, to triangulate exactly where the lightning flash starts and ends,” he said.

So far this year, 35 Americans have been killed by lightning, the National Weather Service said, making it the deadliest year since 2007, when 45 people died.

This is the first time lightning has been included in the official World Meteorological Organization Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which documents records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall and other events.

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