Venezulea Lightning Vanishes, Appears Again

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A mysterious lightning show has been lighting up the night sky in northwest Venezuela for centuries.
    
The strange natural occurrence is known as Relampago de Catatumbo or Catatumbo Lightning.

For almost 300 days of the year, the sky is filled with lightning strikes at about an estimated 40,000 bolts per night.
    
Although many are surprised by the amount of lightning bolts, for the locals, it's nothing out of the ordinary.

"The lightning to them is like cars on the street to someone in New York City," said Alan Highton, a tour operator based on Lake Maracaibo who lives part-time with the indigenous people.

"My own opinion is there is a very intense low pressure in this entire basin.  And as night falls, this causes these towering clouds in several different places.  You can get six or seven lighting storms around you at the same time," he explained.

For centuries, the indigenous people in the northwest region of Venezuela call the phenomenon "riba-ba," which means "the river of fire in the sky."

Last year, the lightning disappeared and no one could figure out why.

"We did realize the lightning stopped," Highton said. "To us, it was a mysterious thing and we do not have the information to say exactly why."

Then mysteriously as it stopped, the lightning started again. 

Several theories including drought and the weather effects of El Nino have been presented by scientists as explanations for the lightning's interruption. 

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