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Catatumbo Lightning

Orange and red lightning above Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela produce a spectacular phenomenon that is visible for more than 500 km. This phenomenon commences one hour after dawn and lasts for 10 hours. Unlike normal thunderstorms, this thunderstorm always occurs in the same place and can be observed 160 nights per year. The origin of the Catatumbo Lightning is unknown. However the Wari, an indigenous group native to the area, believe that the origin is due to “an incredible amount of fireflies that gathered there to pay tribute to the parents of creation.” Generally, many find this legend to be an unacceptable explanation; hence many scientists like Melchor Centeno, Andrew Zavrotsky, Nelson Falcón have attempted to resolve this enigma. However most of their theories proved to be unsuccessful thus research is still being conducted in order to obtain conclusive scientific explanations, but for now the most acceptable theory proposes that the winds from the Andes Mountains collide with ionized gases, such as methane, causing them to rise up and then creating electrical charge. In January 2010 the lightning disappeared unawares but then reappeared in April 2010. Many scientists have proposed that this disruption was caused by climate change, deforestation and the development of agriculture around Lake Maracaibo. These speculations have not yet been proven and the perplexity behind the Catatumbo Lightning phenomenon for now continues to be a mystery.

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