260 NIGHTS OF THE YEAR, UP TO 10 HOURS AT A TIME, EVERLASTING LIGHTENING STORM.
There’s something strange in the air where the Catatumbo river flows into Lake Maracaibo. For 260 nights of the year, often for up to 10 hours at a time, the sky above the river is pierced by lightning, producing as many as 280 strikes per hour. Known as the relampago del Catatumbo (the Catatumbo lightning), this everlasting lightning storm has been raging for as long as people can remember.
The lightning, visible from 25 miles away, is so regular that it’s been used as a navigation aid by ships and is known among sailors as the Maracaibo Beacon. Recent scientific studies have determined that the concentrated lightning is likely caused by an air current that sweeps moisture from the Caribbean Sea and drives it up above the lake. Climate research scientists are currently using Catatumbo as a testing ground to trial a lightning forecast system.