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Record-breaking Lightning strikes all over the world

World meteorological organization (WMO) emphasizes the dangers of lightening as many lives it claims every year. In 1975, 21 people in Zimbabwe were killed when a single lightning flash that hit the hut they were sheltering. Another lightning strike has killed 469 people in Dronka, Egypt in1994 as the lightning flash struck a set of oil tanks causing tragedy by flooding the town with boiling oil. Within two days, more than 100 people were killed by lightning strikes in India.

World meteorological organization (WMO) experts have named two record-breaking lightning strikes of 2019. The single lightning strikes were set in Brazil and Argentina for the longest reported distance and duration. The UN weather agency has announced that the lighting flash on 31st October 2019, stretched more than 700 Kilometres across Brazil equivalent to the distance between London, England, and Basel, Switzerland.

The lightning flash that developed over northern Argentina on March 4th, 2019 has lasted for 16.73 seconds. And the reported lightning burst or mega flashes are said to be more than double the size and duration of the previously recorded lightning flashes. 

The previous mega flash of longest distance was 321km across the US state of Oklahoma on 20th June 2007. And the highest duration was 7.74 seconds across southern France on 30th August 2012.

The record-breaking strikes were recorded by equipment carried on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, and their orbiting counterparts from Europe and China and captured by the American Geophysical Union ahead of the international safety day on June 28th.

The records were described by Professor Randall Cerveny, chief rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for WMO, as “Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable of, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments”, and he adds “It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”

Professor Cerveny says that the technology could help scientists better understand the whole science of lightning, and potentially save lives: “This will provide valuable information for establishing limits to the scale of lightning including mega flashes for engineering, safety and scientific concerns.”

Further, the WMO emphasizes the dangers of lightening as many lives it claims every year. In 1975, 21 people in Zimbabwe were killed when a single lightning flash hit the hut they were sheltering. Another lightning has killed 469 people in Dronka, Egypt in1994 as the lightning flash struck a set of oil tanks causing tragedy by flooding the town with boiling oil.

Within two days more than 100 persons were killed during lightning strikes in two states of India. The authorities say that around 24 people died in Northern Indian state Uttara Pradesh and at least 83 people were killed in the state of Bihar. All the deaths in Bihar state were recorded on Thursday. And the Bihar’s Disaster Management department says that a compensation of $5,300 will be provided for the families who lost their loved ones.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted that it was tragic news during heavy rains and lightning. He further added that the state governments were engaged in urgent relief work. “I express my condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in this disaster,” he added. 

The meteorology experts advice the general public to follow the 30-30 rule to safeguard themselves from thunderstorms and lightning. If the time between flash and thunder is less than 30 seconds, stay inside and wait 30 minutes after last observed lightning flash, to resume outdoor activities.

By Jumana Jabeer

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