The Everlasting Thunderstorm By: Ashley Smart A3

This takes place in Puerto Concha, Venezuela, where the Catatumbo River empties into South America's largest lake is an everlasting thunderstorm. It rages continuously for up to 10 hours a night, in exactly the same place, 250-300 nights per year. It only occurs in this place.
It sometimes is seen on the horizon from as far away as the lesser Antilles, more than 200 miles away. The storm is so central to the region that the state of Zulia put a large lightning bolt in the middle of their flag. The storm produces an average of 28 strikes per minute and it culminates to upwards of 40,000 lightning strikes a night!
Each one of the bolts is ranging from between 100,000 and 400,000amps, far beyond the norm. This frighteningly potent lightning is so incredibly bright and constant that it is visible from up to 250 miles away. The lighting storms start at the exact same time every night, in the same place, starting about an hour after dusk.
Depending on the humidity in the air on a particular night the lightning bolts appear as different colors and can even phase from one color to another in a single night.
When moisture is high, the minuscule airborne droplets of water act like a prism to scatter light and cause the lightning to become stunning explosions of brilliant red, pink, orange, and purple. When the air is dry, the lightning becomes crackling shocks of stark white in the absence of the prism effect.
The skies above Catatumbo went dark for 6 weeks (end of January to beginning of March) it was the first time the storm had disappeared in 104 years they blamed the drought on 2009’s very strong El Nino.
Although it is still unclear of what causes the thunderstorms that are so amped up and only one small area. The most common explanation is that the combination of the unique topography and Atmospheric conditions of the area, such as wind and heat, cause and feed the terrifying storm.
The lake Maracaibo Basin is surrounded on three sides by the Andes Mountains, which form a sort of “V” that traps warm trade winds from the Caribbean. This hot air meets the cooler air descending from the mountains and the clash causes condensation.
This condensation, plus the gas created by the additional moisture evaporating from the lake itself, create the perfect recipe for the formation of thunderstorms. It's also believed that the unique concentration and intensity of the lightning here can be attributed to the large reserves of methane that live beneath the ground in the area.
Yet for all these ideas put forth, at the point, it is not totally understood what causes the storms to rage so consistently and violently.
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Created By
Ashley Smart


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