A phenomenon known as Catatumbo Lightning (Spanish Relámpago del Catatumbo) occurs from 140 to 160 nights a year on the basin of Lake Maracaibolake in western Venezuela. It is active for 10 hours per day and produce up to 280 lightning per hour!.
The area sees an estimated 1,176,000 electrical discharges per year and are visible up to 400 km away. This is the reason why the storm is also known as the Maracaibo Beacon as light has been used for navigation by ships for ages.
The show normally starts about one hour after dusk, don’t be late. It is very intense: there can be observed 20,000 flashes in one night. This resembles a giant strobe light. Single lightnings are 100,000 – 400,000 amperes strong.
The largest light show in the world
The frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are considered to be the world’s largest light show. It is estimated that Maracaibo Lightning produces approximately 10% of tropospheric ozone of the world and can be considered a major regenerator of the planet’s ozone layer, as it produces approximately 1,176,000 kW of atmospheric electricity.
The area is not under the protection of UNESCO yet, but the local environmentalists hope it will be soon.