How It Works
Catatumbo

Lighthouse of Maracaibo

Catatumbo

There’s a lightning storm over Lake Maracaibo that has raged on and off for centuries. This unique phenomenon can be seen from many miles away, illuminating the lake and its surroundings for up to 160 nights a year. Recent data from the University of Zulia showed the Maracaibo Lake basin to have the hottest flash density rate in the world, with an annual average of 181 lightning flashes per square kilometre. Indeed, during peak months, there can be 50 discharges every minute!

The Lighthouse of Maracaibo is caused by very specific conditions. The wind that blows in across the plains is trapped by the surrounding Andes and Perijá mountains, along with the warm, moist air it collected from the plains. The swampy land in this region produces a lot of methane, which rises into the charged clouds and is the catalyst for near-continuous lightning.