Photographers capture the natural beauty of lightning strikes by Lauren Fox•Both amateur and professional photographers embrace danger by photographing the beauty of lightning strikes.
Jeremiah Khokhar is among the professional photographers that chase down the dangerous weather phenomenon for the perfect shot.
„When I was a little child, my uncle during a rainstorm back in Pakistan told me that lightning was God taking photographs of us,” Khokhar said.
Residing in Tampa Bay, Florida, which is considered the lightning capital of the country, Khokhar now works professionally with his camera pointed toward the sky.
|Photo by Jeremiah Khokhar.|
Along with the powerful flashes of light, Khokhar likes to photograph in a way that displays the whole landscape of the area.
„What I’m looking for is enough ambient light to show me exactly where I’m at. That’s the context of my lightning image,” he said.
While lightning photography offers a glimpse at natural beauty, it can also present unique dangers. AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said, that while getting struck by lightning is uncommon, it still happens to thousands of people every year.
„Being out in a thunderstorm, especially an intensifying thunderstorm can be very dangerous,” Rossio said. „… As the old saying goes, ‘When the thunder roars, head indoors.'”
|Photo by Jeremiah Khokhar.|
In order for lightning to be formed, Rossio said a charge first needs to be developed within the cloud, which forms from ice crystals and hail colliding from strong turbulence.
Objects containing metal are highly conductive of electricity, and holding one, such as a golf club, makes for an even more dangerous situation.
„There’s a measure of danger in there. But ultimately there is also an incredible beauty,” Khokhar said.
Reporting by Jonathan Petramala.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
‘Megaflash’: 700km-long lightning bolt sets new global record, WMO confirms
Also confirmed was a separate bolt which beat the record for the longest duration for a single lightning flash.
Both the records were verified with new satellite lightning imagery technology, the WMO said.
Both of them more than double the previous records measured in the United States of America and France.
The WMO said the new distance record was set on 31 October 2018. The 709km the flash reached is equivalent to the distance between Boston and Washington DC in the US or between London and the border of Switzerland near Basel.
The duration record was set on 4 March 2019 over Argentina, when the flash lasted for 16.73 seconds.
“These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, chief rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for the WMO.
“Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable [of], as well as [of] scientific progress in being able to make such assessments. It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”
He added: “This will provide valuable information for establishing limits to the scale of lightning – including megaflashes – for engineering, safety and scientific concerns.”
Until the announcement of the new records, the previous record for the longest detected distance for a single lightning flash was 321km (199.5 miles) on 20 June 2007 across the US state of Oklahoma. Both the previous and new record used the same maximum great circle distance methodology to measure flash extent.
This measuring system works by finding the distance between the two furthest extents of a single flash – which generate hundreds of smaller branches in all directions.
The previous record for duration for a single lightning flash was for one which lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds on 30 August 2012 over the Côte d’Azur, France.
The new records are down to significant advances in how lightning is recorded.
The previous assessments used to establish the flash duration and extent records used data collected by ground-based Lightning Mapping Array networks.
But scientists have acknowledged there is an upper limit to what this technique can measure.
The new records were detected with satellite technology. This provides a far larger view of weather systems than those possible with ground-based networks.
Lead author of the research, Michael J. Peterson, of the Space and Remote Sensing Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said: “This dramatic augmentation of our space-based remote sensing capabilities has allowed the detection of previously unobserved extremes in lightning occurrence, known as ‘megaflashes,’ which are defined as horizontal mesoscale lightning discharges that reach 100s of kilometers in length.”
The WMO said: “Lightning is a major hazard that claims many lives every year. The findings highlight important public lightning safety concerns for electrified clouds where flashes can travel extremely large distances (30-30 rule – if time between flash and thunder is less than 30 seconds, go inside! And wait 30 minutes after the last observed flash to resume outdoor activities).”
Lightning strikes have killed more than 100 people in northern India in recent days after deadly storms hit the states of Bihar, where 83 people were killed, and Uttar Pradesh, where at least 20 people were killed. Dozens more were injured across the two states, according to officials.
The research detailing the record lightning flashes is published by the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters ahead of International Lightning Safety Day on 28 June.
The next time a clash of thunder or a flash of lightning startles you, be thankful you weren’t in Brazil on Oct. 31, 2018. That Halloween night, the record for the longest-traveling lightning strike was broken when a bolt stretched 440 miles across the southern region of the country.
Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed the record in a recent American Geophysical Union journal publication, and, in that paper, they also confirmed another startling broken record for lightning duration. According to their findings, a strike in Argentina endured for 16.73 seconds on March 4, 2019, breaking the previous record by nearly nine seconds.
The two record-breaking South American bolts were confirmed megaflashes, a name given to lightning discharges that reach hundreds of kilometers in length.
|The record-breaking bolts both occurred in the southeastern corner of South America about a year apart. (Map / WMO)|
According to the journal, ideal conditions for a megaflash occurrence involve large electrified clouds with low flash rates that are attached to more active thunderstorm cells.
„These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events,” said the Arizona State University professor. „Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments.”
The new record-breaking strikes were captured by equipment on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). Previously, records were assessed using data collected by ground-based lightning mapping networks, which many lightning scientists acknowledge face upper limits in the scale of lightning that can be observed, the WMO stated.
|The distance of the record-breaking lightning strike in Brazil was captured by new satellite technology. (Image / WMO)|
The previous record for megaflash distance was just under 200 miles, recorded in Oklahoma on June 20, 2007. At 440 miles, the new record-long bolt roughly equaled the distance from Cleveland to Charlotte.
This year has been particularly catastrophic for lightning fatalities in India, where the death toll from strikes reached at least 107 this week. Deadly thunderstorms have covered the northern part of the nation amid intense monsoon conditions.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), four people have died from lightning strikes in the United States this year. The summer months, June through August, are historically the most dangerous times for lightning strikes, which have claimed an average of 26 lives per year over the past decade.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
A new world record lightning strike of 440 miles has been confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, according to a Thursday announcement.
The „megaflash” traveled that distance over parts of southern Brazil on Oct. 31, 2018, the WMO said. This is equivalent to the distance between Washington, DC, and Boston.
In addition to the longest flash in terms of distance, a world record for longest lightning strike in terms of time was also announced: A single flash lasted 16.73 seconds over northern Argentina on March 4, 2019.
“These are extraordinary records from single lightning flash events,” said Arizona State University professor Randall Cerveny, chief rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for the WMO, in a statement. „Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments.
„It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”
The record „megaflashes” were detected with help from lightning detection equipment onboard satellites in orbit around the Earth.
A megaflash is defined as horizontal lightning discharges that reach hundreds of kilometers in length.
The previous record for longest-in-distance flash was 199.5 miles in 2007, across Oklahoma. The previous record for longest-duration flash was 7.74 seconds in 2012 in France.
Those records had been confirmed using data collected by ground-based lightning networks.
The findings about the lightning records were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
Lightning is a major hazard that claims many lives every year, the WMO said. Just in the U.S., an average of 20 people are killed and hundreds injured each year by lightning, the National Weather Service said.
On Thursday in India, 83 people, mostly farmworkers, were killed by lightning during thunderstorms in Bihar state.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lightning world record: Records set for duration, length of strikes
Dozens more were injured across the two states, according to officials.
Lightning strikes are fairly common during India’s annual monsoon season, which lasts from June to September.
But Lakshmeshwar Raj, Bihar’s disaster management minister, said this was one of the highest death tolls the state had recorded in recent years.
Most of those killed in Bihar were farm workers, struck down while planting seeds outdoors, government official Upendra Pal said.
Mr Pal said at least 10 others were injured and were receiving hospital treatment.
Bihar is a “multi-disaster prone state” which is “vulnerable to many hazards”, according to the state’s Disaster Management Authority.
Monsoon season brings rain which is essential for the harvest in Bihar and across South Asia.
But the state suffers in heavy rainfall each year, with flooding in Bihar being responsible for 30-40 per cent of all flood damage in India.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected across Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh on Friday and over the weekend, according to India’s Meteorological Department.
Prime minister Narendra Modi responded to the deaths on Twitter, writing: “I express my condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in this disaster.”
The prime minister also said that state governments were responding with urgency to the storms.
More than 2,300 were killed by lightning in India in 2018, according to the most recent figures available from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
Mizoram earthquake: Indian PM Modi offers ‘all possible support’ after 5.5-magnitude quake hits northeast
Several houses and buildings damaged and cracks appear in roads, an official says
An earthquake of magnitude 5.5 struck the state of Mizoram in northeastern India on Monday morning, the country’s seismology centre said, with shaking also felt in neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar.Impacts were reported in the border town of Champai, where several houses and buildings were damaged and cracks appeared in roads, a state official told Indian media.India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to the state’s chief minister and assured him of „all possible support from the [central government]”.Amit Shah, the home minister, also said he had a phone call with Mizoram’s leader Zoramthanga, „to review the situation after the earthquake tremors in the state”.Chief minister Zoramthanga said at around midday that there were no casualties reported so far, and thanked the prime minister and home minister for their support.
The quake hit at around 4.10am local time, and is the second significant tremor in two days to affect the northeast region of India.On Sunday, a 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit the neighbouring state of Manipur, though there were no reports of significant damage or casualties.Three major tectonic plates meet in northeastern India, resulting in the area experiencing relatively high levels of seismic activity.
As our galaxy and universe further age, the chance for life to exist will increasingly decline, according to a team of Aussie researchers.
The scientists have discovered that rocky exoplanets that formed early in the life of the galaxy seem to have had a better chance of developing a magnetic field and plate tectonics—which are considered favorable to the evolution of life.
This could mean that if other life-forms exist in the Milky Way galaxy, they likely developed earlier than later. Planets that formed more recently have a lower chance of developing life.
“Plate tectonics is important for habitability, and it looks like the optimum conditions for plate tectonics existed for planets forming early in the galaxy’s lifespan, and may be unlikely to easily recur,” Craig O’Neill, a professor at Macquarie University, said during a virtual presentation at the recent Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.
“For life, maybe that was as good as it gets.”
O’Neill suggested that plate tectonics on Earth act like a thermostat for the planet. So, exoplanets that haven’t yet developed plate tectonics likely don’t have the right conditions to host life.
“This doesn’t just affect the surface temperature, this means that the core stays hot, which inhibits the development of a magnetic field,” O’Neill said.
“If there’s no magnetic field, the planet is not shielded from solar radiation and will tend to lose its atmosphere. So, life becomes difficult to sustain. A planet needs to be lucky to have the right position and the right geochemistry at the right time if it’s going to sustain life.”
Researchers know that the overall chemical balance of our galaxy has changed over billions of years, as vast amounts of material have coalesced into stars and planetary bodies or have been expelled through supernovas.
This means that the interstellar material available to form future planetary bodies is significantly different compared to what was present in the early galaxy. Perhaps humans on Earth will be the last in an unknown line of life-forms to thrive in the Milky Way galaxy.
“So, the planets which formed earlier did so in conditions favorable to allow the development of life . . . these conditions are becoming increasingly rarer in our galaxy,” O’Neill said.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.