Longest Lightning Strike Ever Stretched Almost 200 Miles Across Oklahoma

Longest-lasting lightning bolt also measured

Lightning is generally short and shocking, not long and slow. But a new report from the World Meteorological Organization tracked down the longest lightning bolts, both in terms of time and distance.

The most well-travelled lightning bolt covered a distance of almost 200 miles, streaking across the state of Oklahoma on June 20, 2007.

“The end result reinforces critical safety information regarding lightning, specifically that lightning flashes can travel huge distances from their parent thunderstorms. Our experts’ best advice: when thunder roars, go indoors,” Randall Cerveny, chief Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for WMO said.

But that long journey took place in a flash. The record for longest-lasting lightning discharge went to a lightning bolt in France on August 30, 2012 that struck continuously for 7.74 seconds.

The difference is so much that the paper associated with the world records published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society recommends changing the current definition of lightning discharge to a “series of electrical processes taking place continuously” instead of “a series of electrical processes taking place within 1 second.”

To put those 7.74 seconds in perspective, consider that it’s longer than most (but not all) Vines, like this one:

And less than two seconds slower than Usain Bolt’s record in the 100 meter race.


Who knows, maybe one day Bolt could beat a bolt.