Tonga underwater volcano eruption shattered two records

An underwater volcano in the South Pacific erupted last month and shattered two records simultaneously: The volcanic plume reached greater heights than any eruption ever captured in the satellite record, and the eruption generated an unparalleled number of lightning strikes — almost 590,000 over the course of three days, Reuters reported.

“The combination of volcanic heat and the amount of superheated moisture from the ocean made this eruption unprecedented. It was like hyper-fuel for a mega-thunderstorm,” Kristopher Bedka, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center who specializes in studying extreme storms, said in a statement from the NASA Earth Observatory. “The plume went 2.5 times higher than any thunderstorm we have ever observed, and the eruption generated an incredible amount of lightning.”