Relampago del Catatumbo

In Venezuela, where the Catatumbo river flows into Lake Maracaibo lightning strikes about 1.2 million times per year. Nobody is sure exactly why, although it has been suggested that it has something to do with clouds of methane rising from the bogs and meeting storm clouds from the Andes.

It was first written about in the 1597 poem “The Dragontea” by Lope de Vega. De Vega tells of Sir Francis Drake’s 1595 attempt to take the city of Maracaibo by night, only to have his plans foiled when the lightning storm’s flashes gave away his position to the city’s defenders.

This happened again on July 24, 1823, when, during the Venezuelan War of Independence, Spanish ships were revealed by the lightning and defeated by the Simón Bolívar’s upstart navy.

Relampago del Catatumbo [Atlas Obscura]


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