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An everlasting lightning storm that rages 260 days a year in the lawless border region of Venezuela.

Where the Catatumbo River empties into South America’s largest lake, an “everlasting lightning storm” rages continuously for up to 10 hours a night, in exactly the same place, 260 nights a year. Nowhere else on Earth is so much lightning concentrated in one spot, with such regularity.

Known as the “Beacon of Maracaibo,” the Catatumbo lightning has guided sailors for centuries. It can sometimes be seen on the horizon from as far away as the Lesser Antilles, more than 200 miles distant. In his 1597 poem “The Dragontea,” which tells the story of Sir Francis Drake’s last expedition, Spanish poet Lope de Vega tells how the lightning—”flames, which the wings of night cover”—illuminated the silhouettes of the English privateer’s ships, tipping off the garrison at Maracaibo to his surprise attack.

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