The everlasting storm: Stunning images of a unique phenomenon in Venezuela where lightning rages almost every other night of the year, for thousands of years!

      06 June 2013 / World Travel

      Storm clouds gather in the same spot five-miles above Lake Maracaibo up to 160 nights per year, lasting for about 10 hours at a time. 

      The 'everlasting storm' rages of the Catalumbo Delta in Venezuela - the phenomenon has continued for thousands of years
      The 'everlasting storm' rages of the Catatumbo Delta in Venezuela - the phenomenon has continued for thousands of years 
       
      The Venezuelan storms generate an estimated 1.2million lightning strikes a year
      The Venezuelan storms generate an estimated 1.2 million lightning strikes a year
       
      Storm clouds gather in the same spot five-miles above Lake Maracaibo up to 160 nights per year, lasting for about 10 hours at a time
      Storm clouds gather in the same spot five-miles above Lake Maracaibo up to 160 nights per year, lasting for about 10 hours at a time
       
      The lightning strikes over the Catatumbo Delta in Venezuela are visible from almost 250 miles away
      The lightning strikes over the Catatumbo Delta in Venezuela are visible from almost 250 miles away

      There are several theories to explain the continuous storms including high winds which sweep across the lake forming clouds when they meet the Andean mountains. Others link it to the boggy marshes releasing methane gas.

      Either way it has become a proud symbol for the people of Venezuela and is referenced in the epic poem 'La Dragontea' by Lope de Vega. It is also credited with scuppering a raid by Francis Drake on the city of Maracaibo in 1595 when lightning betrayed his ships to the Spanish garrison.

      The state of Zulia, which encompasses Lake Maracaibo, has a lightning bolt across its centre and refers to the phenomenon in its anthem.

      The storm also acts as a natural lighthouse for local fisherman who are able to navigate at night without any problem.

      On occasions the phenomenon has stopped for weeks at a time, most recently in 2010. Locals worried it was the result of an extreme drought, which had led to electricity shortages in a country which relies heavily on hydropower.

      But after five weeks of silence the cacophony resumed.

      The other occasion was in 1906 after a huge earthquake off the coast of Columbia and Ecuador caused a tsunami. 

      Theories about the cause of the continuous lightning differ, but one explanation is that high winds sweep across the river and forming clouds when they meet the Andean mountains
      Theories about the cause of the continuous lightning differ, but one explanation is that high winds sweep across the river and form clouds when they meet the Andean mountains 
       
      The phenomenon was even witnessed by Sir Francis Drake as he attempted to attack a Spanish colony in 1595
      The phenomenon was even witnessed by Sir Francis Drake as he attempted to attack a Spanish colony in 1595
       
      The night's sky is illuminated by another scorching arc of lightning over the Catatumbo Delta
      The night's sky is illuminated by another scorching arc of lightning over the Catatumbo Delta
       
      The storm acts as a natural lighthouse for local fisherman who are able to navigate at night without any problem

      The storm acts as a natural lighthouse for local fisherman who are able to navigate at night without any problem

      Some scientists consider the everlasting storm to be the single biggest generator of tropospheric ozone on the planet.

      In these photos the lightning bolts illuminate the sky in a combination of brilliant whites, reds and purples.

      The difference in the colours of lightning storms is caused partly by the different kinds of atoms in the air. 

      In dry air it looks white because there are few strong visible rays of light. But if water vapour is present, hydrogen atoms create a strong red line. At night this can appear purple.

      The lightning storm has become a proud symbol for the people of Venezuela and is referenced in the epic poem 'La Dragontea' by Lope de Vega
      The lightning storm has become a proud symbol for the people of Venezuela and is referenced in the epic poem 'La Dragontea' by Lope de Vega
       
      Some scientists consider the everlasting storm to be the single biggest generator of tropospheric ozone on the planet
      Some scientists consider the everlasting storm to be the single biggest generator of tropospheric ozone on the planet
       
      This dramatic image captures a man's silhouette against the backdrop of a huge fork of lightning reaching the lake
      This dramatic image captures a man's silhouette against the backdrop of a huge fork of lightning reaching the lake
       
      The varying colours of the lightning storm is caused by light refracting through different kinds of atoms in the air
      The varying colours of the lightning storm is caused by light refracting through different kinds of atoms in the air

      Courtesy of The Daily Mail