Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Light Up The Sky Again And Again And Again...!

Now here is a story about Mother Nature really putting on a show...over and over again!

A view like this would certainly grab your attention, if you know what I mean! I don't think this is a place I'd want to fish! Still, it would make for an amazing night-time light show!

Where The Lightning Never Stops In Venezuela
By Debra Kelly on Monday, May 12, 2014

From anywhere between 260 and 300 nights out of any given year, the skies over the Catatumbo River in Venezuela are lit by lightning. And not just any kind of lightning; on average, each nightly storm lasts about 10 hours, and the skies are torn by thousands of lightning bolts each night. The phenomenon has been recorded as far back as the 16th century, and it’s a unique combination of the area’s topography and mixing air currents that cause these nightly storms.

With blatant disregard for the long-told myth that lightning never strikes in the same place twice, a lightning storm has been raging over one area in Venezuela almost every night for hundreds of years. Between 260 and 300 nights a year, storms light up the sky over the Catatumbo River in Venezuela. Each nightly lightning storm rages for nine to ten hours, and there’s so much lightning that area residents take measures to darken the inside of their homes in order to get some sleep.

In an average year, there are about 1.2 million flashes of lightning in the night sky. Thunder accompanies each lightning strike, but the storms are generally high enough up in the atmosphere that those on the ground can’t hear it.

Not surprisingly, the lightning storm has a prominent position in the area’s history. Acting as a natural lighthouse, the storm has been used as a landmark for sailors throughout the nautical history of the country. Guiding friendly ships, it’s also allowed land-based troops to spot potential attackers when they were still miles and miles away. Sir Francis Drake was one of the would-be attackers who had his mission foiled by the lightning.

It was also crucial in naval battles that led to Venezuela’s independence from Spain, for much the same reason.

The cause of this massive lightning storm has long been the subject of much debate. The current theory is that the unique, V-shaped mountain range that surrounds the area presents the right conditions for trapping warm winds coming out of the Caribbean. When cold air coming down off the Andes Mountains drops, lightning storms form along the change in temperature.

Add in the huge amounts of methane that leak into the air from the oil fields below Lake Maracaibo; along with the massive amounts of decaying plant matter and the gases released by that, researchers think that the gas buildup changes the normal conductivity of the air and makes it the perfect place for a prolonged lightning superstorm.

While it’s not a confirmed theory, it’s a likely one that’s supported by the disappearance of the lightning storm when there have been major changes in some parts of the environment; it’s unlikely to be one or two factors, but a convergence of several.

In 1906, the lightning disappeared for three weeks after a major earthquake and resulting tsunami. In 2010, a drought caused by El NiƱo also led to the temporary halt of the lightning storms. Locals had, worryingly, noticed a lull in the strength of the storms in recent years as well, and said it was most likely because of the deforestation that was happening in the area and the clogging of the river with agricultural runoff.

The lightning came back after several months, but it’s still disturbing evidence on how the natural balance is shifting to disrupt something that has been such a well-documented phenomenon for centuries.

It’s something the planet can ill afford to lose, too. The massive lightning storms put out much more than light and energy: They also form ozone. The change in pressure around a lightning bolt, along with the massive amounts of heat generated, allows oxygen and nitrogen to join together more easily. The two molecules are little more than a reluctant pairing, and sunlight often shakes the atoms loose. But ozone is crucial to the survival of the planet; when it’s high in the atmosphere where lighting storms happen, it helps shield us from harmful rays.

I just thought you would enjoy a bit of natural history this morning! Ever heard of this before? I hadn't.

Coffee out on the patio today. How about a nice lemon cake?


Gorges Smythe said...

Very interesting!

Mamahen said...

I had not heard of this. Interesting and a bit scary that it seems to be lessening after all this time...Patio and cake both sound nice :))

Chickenmom said...

I like a good lightning storm, but every night? Another very interesting one, Mr. Hermit! Lemon cake sounds wonderful!

Sixbears said...

In the US, Florida leads the country for lightning. My lovely wife always worries about it on the sailboat. Something about that 30 foot lighting rod sticking out of the sailboat . . .

linda m said...

Never heard of this before. That must be an awesome sight to see. Don't think I would want to see the light show every night tho. Coffee on the patio and lemon cake sounds good to me after the super sever thunderstorm we had yesterday.

JO said...

Never heard about this before. very interesting story. The pictures is fantastic.

I'll have a refill please.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
It is, isn't it?

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Mamahen...
Strange that so much is dependent on this lightening.

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Phyllis...
Might be a bit too much at 300 nights in a year! Not too good for the star gazers, I reckon!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Sixbears...
I can see where that would be a concern for some folks! Might be a little scary at that!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Linda M...
It would be nice for a night or two...but every night would be way too much!

We had a good rain last night as well!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Jo...
It does make for a pretty picture, doesn't it?

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Judy said...

Okay, the science geek in me just wants to point out that ozone is 3 Oxygen atoms not the normal 2. And if you combine Nitrogen and Oxygen you get Nitrous Oxide - laughing gas. I'll take my lab coat off now. LOL

Yum, lemon cake!

Dizzy-Dick said...

This is the first time I heard about that phenomenon. Very interesting and very beautiful in its own way.