RANDOM FACT #22 - The Most LIGHTNING-STRUCK Place on Earth Occurs Over THIS LAKE

The lake itself is most interesting...

This map shows the location of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
Created by NormanEinstein, September 15, 2005. | Source
Lake Maracaibo (Spanish: Lago de Maracaibo) is a large brackish bay in Venezuela. It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait which is 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) wide at the northern end and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is sometimes considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 square kilometres (5,100 sq mi) it would be the largest lake in South America. The geological record shows that it has been a true lake in the past, and as such is one of the oldest lakes on Earth at 20–36 million years old.

Lake Maracaibo acts as a major shipping route to the ports of Maracaibo and Cabimas. The surrounding Maracaibo Basin contains large reserves of crude oil, making the lake a major profit center for Venezuela. It also holds almost a quarter of Venezuela's population. A dredged channel gives oceangoing vessels access to the bay. The 8.7-kilometre (5.4 mi) long General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge which was completed in 1962 spanning the bay's outlet is one of the longest bridges in the world.

The weather phenomenon known as the Catatumbo lightning at Lake Maracaibo regularly produces more lightning than any other place on the planet.

Catatumbo lightning

The Catatumbo Lightning (Spanish: Relámpago del Catatumbo)] is an atmospheric phenomenon in Venezuela. It occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. The frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are considered to be the world's largest single generator of tropospheric ozone.

It originates from a mass of storm clouds at a height of more than 5 km, and occurs during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour. It occurs over and around Lake Maracaibo, typically over the bog area formed where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake.

After appearing continually for centuries, the lightning ceased from January to April 2010, apparently due to drought, temporarily raising fears that it might have been extinguished permanently.

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