Lightning is a rapid electrostatic discharge that occurs in the clouds during a thunderstorm. According to NASA, there are about 44 (±5) lightning strikes per second and over 1.4 billion flashes annually. The lightning strikes are not evenly distributed around the earth, and over 70% of them occurring in the tropics. The South and North Poles and the oceans get fewer lightning strikes.
Even though the place that receives the most lightning in the world is in South America, Africa is the top continent on the top 500 lightning hotspots list with 283 sites followed by Asia with 87 places. North America has 53; South America has 67 and Oceania has 10. The most active areas in North America are in Mexico and Guatemala while the most active place in the United States ranks 122 globally. Some of the places in the world where the most lightning strikes occur are outlined below. All data was put together by researches using data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Lightning Imaging Sensor.
1) Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
Lake Maracaibo is in the bay of the Caribbean Sea. It is a huge brackish tidal estuary within Venezuela. The 3.4 miles wide Tablazo Strait links the lake to the Venezuelan Gulf. The lake is fed by several rivers with the largest being the River Catatumbo. The lake occupies an area of about 5,100 sq miles and was once the biggest in South America. The weather phenomenon called Catatumbo lightning that occurs at the lake produces more lightning than any other area in the world.
Catatumbo lightning occurs at the place where River Catatumbo drains into the Lake Maracaibo. When the warm air from Maracaibo meets with the cold air from the Andes, it produces the never-ending Catatumbo lightning strikes. The lightning originates from the storm clouds which are over 0.6miles high, and it occurs in about 160 nights annually. Lake Maracaibo receives over 280 lightning strikes per hour, and it lasts for 10hours every day. Lake Maracaibo experiences over 232.52 flashes in every 247 acres per annum.
2) Kabare, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Out of the top 500 lightning spots in the world, Africa leads with Kabare being the epicenter of lightning activities in the continent. Kabare is on the western shores of Kivu Lake in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the central part of the Kingdom of Bushi which was located right between Lake Kivu and Mitumba mountains. Kabare experiences over 205.31 flashes per 247 acres every year.
3) Kampene, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kampene is in the Great Lakes region of Africa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The majority of the places within the Great Lakes region area rank among the top 500 lightning hotspots in the world and Kampene, which experiences over 176.71 flashes per 247 acres, ranks third in the world.
4) Caceres, Colombia
Caceres is a Colombian municipality in Bajo Cauca in Antioquia department. It is one of the oldest Colombian towns in Antioquia which is linked to the gold exploration. Captain Gaspar Rodas founded the Caceres in 1576 when he arrived near River Cauca’s banks. After selecting the site, he ordered the people to build over 30 farms. Some areas in Caceres get more strikes annually than any other place in the country. Caceres receives over 172.29 flashes per every 247 acres annually.
5) Sake, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Africa has 6 out of the top-10 lightning hotspots in the world, and most of them are close to the Kivu Lake. The third hotspot in Africa and the fifth globally is Sake in the DRC. Sake is at the northwestern extremities of the Kivu Lake in North Kivu province. Sake is on the northwestern and west parts of Goma. Sake receives an average of 143.21 flashes per 247 acres annually.
6) Dagar, Pakistan
Dagar is the central lightning hotspot in Asia which is in the Pakistani province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It is the capital of Buner, and it has an average altitude of 2,260 ft. Dagar is Buner’s administrative unit. The Taliban forces took over Dagar on April 22, 2009, and killed all the locals who resisted, but they were driven out by the Pakistani army who were deployed on April 29, 2009. Dagar is on the mountainous region of Pakistani and it sees more lightning due to its position. The town is at the intersection between the Indus River plain and the westernmost Himalaya. Dagar gets an average of about 143.11 flashes per 0.39 sq miles every year.
7) El Tarra, Colombia
El Tarra is a small municipality in Colombia which was established on November 26, 1990. El Tarra is in the Norte de Santander department and has a population of over 12,766 people. Lightning occurs more in places near the equator and high altitude regions which explains why El Tarra is ranked among the top ten lightning hotspots in the world. El Tarra is at an altitude of about 886ft. El Tarra receives about 138.61 flashes in every 247 acres annually.
8) Nguti, Cameroon
Nguti is one of the Cameroonian communes of Koupe-Manengouba department. Nguti has over 27,151 residents and experiences the most lightning in the country. The site gets more thunderstorms because it is where the consistent cold sea breeze from the Guinea Gulf meets the hot rising air from inland Cameroon. Nguti experiences about 129.58 flashes per 247 acres annually.
9) Butembo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Butembo is one of the cities located in North Kivu. North Kivu is one of the provinces bordering the Kivu Lake. Butembo is the second largest city in the province with a population of over 670,285 people. Butembo is on the Great Lakes region, a place known for receiving hundreds of lightning annually. The city gets about 129.5 flashes per 247 acres.
10) Boende, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Boende is one of the towns in Tshuapa province that lies near the Tshuapa River. Boende is a river port town which is in the Congo Basin a place which was assumed to be the world’s capital lightning until NASA concluded their research. The port serves vessels sailing to the capital city of the DRC through Mbandaka. The town has over 36,158 residents with their official language being Lingala. Boende receives an average of 127.52 flashes per 247 acres annually.