The secret of “Lightning Capital”

The most concentrated area of ​​lightning
Every October, the local rainy season, the lightning is the most spectacular. The lake is shrouded daily by thick thunder clouds, and thunder and lightning are also more active. Thunder and lightning mostly appeared in the evening: the dark night sky was suddenly illuminated by countless lightnings, and the heavens and the earth were instantly silver, as if the giant’s hand suddenly tore the black curtain; the thunder was like a gun, and it seemed like an atomic bomb, it seems to be The entire earthquake collapsed… Lightning followed one after another, with an average of 28 lanes per minute. At most, thousands of lightnings per hour can be seen. Most of the night, the Maracaibo Lake area is bright all night, and the lightning not only turns the night here into the day, but also transmits the light to 400 kilometers away.

Surprisingly, the lightning here is actually colored: they are red, some are yellow, some are purple… What is going on? It turned out that this is the storm that rolls the dust into the air, and the air vapor content in the air is very abundant. When the lightning passes through the dust or water vapor in the air, part of the white light is absorbed or diffracted, so the lightning shows a colorful color.

“God’s wrath” caused lightning?
Why does lightning frequently visit this area? There is a legend in the local area.

It is said that a long time ago, there were few humans living around the Lake Maracaibo. The weather conditions were very good, there was no storm, no lightning, and the scenery was far more beautiful than now: the lake is surrounded by dense forests, all year round. Lush, birds fly freely in the sky, fish and shrimp play in the lake for food… Because the scenery is so beautiful, God also took a fancy to this feng shui treasure, and used it as a back garden for leisure vacations, from time to time, His old man would sneak out of the gods, sneak away from heaven, and stay here for a while. Later, more and more people were on the lake, and they were increasingly greedy. They cut down forests and planted cash crops. Soon, the forest around Lake Maracaibo was cut down, the climate gradually became bad, the birds flew away, and the fish and shrimp disappeared. One night, God, who had not visited for a long time, came here and saw that the status quo could not be furious. His anger turned into lightning, and from time to time he broke through the dark night sky, and the roar became thunder, making the people living here fearful.

Underground mines cause lightning to occur frequently?
Legends can only be legends. For the cause of the formation of lightning, a bold assumption has been made: there may be a large amount of magnetic ore buried in the ground of the intersection of the Katathombo River and the Maracaibo Lake.

This assumption is not groundless. In nature, some underground rocks are naturally magnetic, and where they accumulate in large quantities, they often form a strong magnetic field. Under the influence of strong charged convection clouds or thunder clouds over the sky, strong magnetic fields will increase the atmospheric electric field on the surface, causing discharge phenomena. Looking at the world, this kind of underground strong magnetic field “inviting” lightning is not uncommon. For example, in Qinghai Province of China, there is a canyon called Nagliola that has this characteristic: the rock on the surface of the canyon is magnetic, causing lightning in the valley. Many people, animals and animals entering it will be electrocuted or electrically injured without exception, so this canyon is known as the “Death Valley.”

However, through scientific investigations, people did not find so-called magnetic ore in the place where the Katathombo River and Maracaibo Lake meet. Here the water is wide, the swamp is everywhere, whether it is a riverbed or a swamp, the bottom is thick silt. These silt is several meters deep, and then there are fine sand grains, which are not magnetic at all.

Clouds and biogas collide to form lightning?
After excluding the underground magnetic field, some experts put forward another point: the collision of clouds and biogas formed lightning.

Experts believe that most of the clouds over Lake Maracaibo are “foreign households”: they are driven by strong winds and come here from the Andes. These “wanderers” arrive at Maracaibo Lake because of their small space. The “temper” became very hot. Under the squeeze and collision, a strong storm occurred. The formation of lightning is related to the organic matter in the marsh area of ​​the Maracaibo Lake: many organic matter is buried in the swamp, and they are spoiled to produce a lot of biogas, because the density of biogas is lighter than air, and it will accumulate in the cloud when it rises into the air. Above, and because the biogas is an ionized gas, they interact with the cloud, thus forming a strong discharge phenomenon.

However, some scientists believe that this explanation is too far-fetched: it is almost impossible to “graft” storms and biogas discharges, because the biogas generated in the marshes will be blown away by the storm, and it will disappear in no time. It is impossible to stay in the clouds above the lake, so it is impossible to produce a discharge phenomenon.

The climate and unique terrain!
What caused the “Kata Tombo Lightning”? It turned out that this is the result of a combination of climate and unique terrain.

Venezuela is located near the equator and belongs to the tropical rainforest climate. It is hot and rainy all year round. The Maracaibo Basin is located in the northwestern part of Venezuela. The center of the basin is the Maracaibo Lake, which is arguably the hottest and hottest region in South America. In addition to the dry climate on the coast of the Gulf of Venezuela in the north, the annual precipitation is less than 500 mm. Most of the average annual precipitation in the lake area is above 1500 mm. The humid and rainy climate provides the basic conditions for the breeding of thunderclouds.

In addition, the terrain of Maracaibo Lake is very unique. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides and a basin in the middle. It resembles a horseshoe and looks like a bell mouth, which is very conducive to the formation of thunder clouds. During the day, the water in the lake and surrounding wetlands is rapidly evaporated by the high temperature of the tropics, forming a large amount of hot and humid air. At night, the wind coming from the sea blows in through the “horn”, lifting the warm and humid air to the air, and down the mountain. The cold air meets and the two face a fierce confrontation, which forms a dense thunderstorm cloud. In the thunderstorm cloud, the water droplets in the rising warm and humid air collide with the ice crystals in the cold air, generating a large amount of static charge, so that the thunderstorms of stormy weather appear.