|A lightning bolt extends far outside a thunderstorm|
in Darwin, Australia in 2015. This is impressive but
nothing compared to the nearly 200 mile long
lightning bolt in Oklahoma back in 2007
Conventional wisdom is that lightning can hit the ground 20 miles or more from the storm, so even if you just hear thunder in the distance, you're close enough to get struck by lightning.
However, this latest bit of news is ridiculous. Researchers said a new record was set back in 2007 for the longest lightning bolt ever seen.
It extended nearly 200 miles from around Tulsa, Oklahoma all the way west to that state's panhandle, says the World Meteorological Organization. Lightning detectors on the ground tracked the bolt.
This particular bolt of lightning was dangerous, as all lightning is. This one was just more so. It originated about six miles above Tulsa and hit the ground several times on its extension out to the plains of western Oklahoma, reports the Tulsa World.
Such long lightning strikes might have us rethinking what is generally called the 30/30 rule. That rule is if you see a lightning bolt, start counting off 30 seconds. If it takes longer than 30 seconds to hear the thunder, it's generally safe to stay outside. If it's less than 30 seconds, time to head indoors.
"These kinds of rules need to be looked at. It's going to depend on the kind of thunderstorm....You really need to know where it (lightning is occurring. There could be a lower risk - the lower the flash rate - but it's not no risk," said Timothy Lang, a researcher at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, according to the Tulsa World.
Thunderstorms are rattling around Oklahoma today. Let's hope they don't get any lightning strikes like the one in 2007!
Meanwhile, another lightning record was discovered in France - the world's longest lasting lightning bolt. Researchers said the French bolt in 2012 doubled back on itself, helping it last a whopping 7.74 seconds. Lightning bolts usually last about a second.
Timothy Lang, a researcher at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama
"These kinds of rules need to be looked at. It's going to depend on the kind of thunderstorm," Lang said. "You really need to know where it (lightning) is occurring. There could be a lower risk — the lower the flash rate — but it's not 'no-risk.'"
The epic lightning bolt hit during a day of crappy weather over eastern Oklahoma on June 20, 2007. A big complex of thunderstorms formed, causing a lot of wind, rain, and a tornado or two that caused a bit of damage to some homes.