Rain

Top 10 Wettest Places on Earth

Earth is still the only planet we know where water can exist in liquid form on the surface and the water is vital for all known forms of life. Rain brings life: it is a major component of the water cycle (also known as hydrologic cycle, the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth) and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. Here are the top ten wettest places on Earth.

Water Cycle on Earth
The water cycle, also known as the hydrological cycle or the H2O cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on a wide range of climatic variables. The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow. In doing so, the water goes through different phases: liquid, solid (ice), and gas (vapor).
The water cycle involves the exchange of energy, which leads to temperature changes. For instance, when water evaporates, it takes up energy from its surroundings and cools the environment. When it condenses, it releases energy and warms the environment. These heat exchanges influence climate.
The evaporative phase of the cycle purifies water which then replenishes the land with freshwater. The flow of liquid water and ice transports minerals across the globe. It is also involved in reshaping the geological features of the Earth, through processes including erosion and sedimentation. The water cycle is also essential for the maintenance of most life and ecosystems on the planet.
Diagram: Ehud Tal

Keep in mind that the list below contains top ten wettest locations on earth that we have actual data for. These may not be the certain wettest locations, there can be wetter places beyond the reach of direct scientific observation. Another important point is: the climate changes over time, and some places may become drier whereas others may become wetter.

Average annual rainfall values are taken from the wunderground.

10. Mount Emei, Sichuan Province, China

Average annual rainfall: 8169 mm (321.60 in)
Continent: Asia

Rain on Mount Emei
Rain on Mount Emei

Mount Emei is a mountain in Sichuan Province, China, and is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. It is the wettest place in China. At the summit, precipitation is common year-round (occurring on average of 255 days). Rainfall is especially heavy in summer, and more than 70% of the annual total occurs from June to September, as a result to the influence of the monsoon. (1)

9. Pu’u Kukui, Maui, Hawaii

Average annual rainfall: 9293 mm (365.87 in)
Continent: Oceania

Rain on Pu'u Kukui
Rain on Pu’u Kukui

Pu’u Kukui (Hawaiian: “Candlenut Hill”) is a mountain peak in Maui county, western Maui island, Hawaii, United States. With 1,764-meter (5,787 feet), it is the highest peak of Mauna Kahalawai (the West Maui Mountains). The peak was formed by a volcano whose caldera eroded into what is now Ī’ao Valley.

8. Mount Waialeale, Kauai, Hawaii

Average annual rainfall: 9763 mm (384.37 in)
Continent: Oceania

Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on Earth
Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on Earth

Mount Wai’ale’ale, often spelled Waialeale in English without the ‘okina, is a shield volcano, and at an elevation of 5,148 feet (1,569 m) it is the second highest point on the island of Kaua’i in the Hawaiian Islands. Its name literally means “rippling water” or “overflowing water”. Its summit is one of the rainiest spots on earth.

In 1982, Mount Waialeale saw a record 683 inches (17,300 mm) of rain.

7. Big Bog, Maui, Hawaii

Average annual rainfall: 10,272 mm (404.40 in)
Continent: Oceania

Big Bog, Haleakala
Big Bog, Haleakala

“Big Bog” is a spot on the edge of Haleakala National Park overlooking Hana at about 5,400 feet elevation. Big Bog is a major tourist attraction on Maui because of its beautiful scenery.

It is also the wettest spot in the United States:

“A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii-Manoa Geography Department has recently published a rainfall atlas to the state and may have discovered a new ‘wettest spot’ in the islands and thus for the entire United States. In 1992 they set up a rain gauge at a location known as the ‘Big Bog’ on the edge of Haleakala National Park on Maui Island. They had originally estimated the rainfall at this site to be on the order of 180” per annum, but the second year of data (1994) saw an amazing 560” of precipitation fall. The 30-year (1978-2007) average annual rainfall was 404″ at Big Bog (estimated from 1992-2007 data) vs. 393″ at Mt. Waialeale.” source

6. Debundscha point, Cameroon

Average annual rainfall: 10,299 mm (405.47 in)
Continent: Africa

Debundscha
Debundscha, Cameroon. Photo: Ana Bulnes

Debundscha is a village in the south-western Region of the republic of Cameroon. lies at the foot of Mount Cameroon, the highest peak In Africa (4,040 m / 13,250 ft). Its south western corner directly facing the south Atlantic ocean on the Cameroon coast. Debundscha has an extremely wet climate. The location contributes to its massive rains as the mountain blocks the clouds.

5. San Antonio de Ureca, Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea

Average annual rainfall: 10,450 mm (411.42 in)
Continent: Africa

San Antonio de Ureca
San Antonio de Ureca

San Antonio de Ureca, also known as Ureka or Ureca is a village found in Bioko Sur Province, south of Malabo on the Bioko island, 32 km off the west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea. The island is the northernmost part of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. It is the wettest place in the Africa. The dry season is from November to March, the rest of the year heavy rain falls.

4. Cropp River, New Zealand

Average annual rainfall: 11,516 mm (453.39 in)
Continent: Oceania

Cropp River
Cropp River meets the Whitcombe River in the Foreground. Photo: wikipedia

Before joining the Whitcombe River, it flows only 9 kilometers (6 miles), but it receives heavy rainfall during the year. On 12–13 December 1995, 1,049 millimeters (41.3 inches) of rain fell over the Cropp River, a record rainfall for a 48-hour period for New Zealand.

3. Tutunendo, Colombia

Average annual rainfall: 11,770 mm (463.39 in)
Continent: South America

Quibdo, Colombia
The nearby city of Quibdó holds the title of the wettest city in the world.

Tutunendo is a tourist resort and township near Quibdó, whose name is derived from an Embera word meaning “river of fragrances.” The extreme rainfall is because the Andes to the east block the westerly winds driven by the Intertropical Convergence Zone which throughout the year, owing to the Humboldt Current off the west coast of South America, remains centered in the north of the continent at Tutunendo’s longitudes. Rain falls almost every day in intense thunderstorms, and sunny periods seldom last more than a few hours after sunrise.

The nearby city of Quibdó, the capital city of Chocó Department holds the title of the wettest city in the world. Without noticeable seasons and by a large margin the heaviest rainfall in South America and of any city of its size or greater—the wettest city of larger size, Monrovia in Liberia, receives 3 meters (120 in) less than Quibdó.

2. Cherrapunji, Meghalaya State, India

Average annual rainfall: 11,777 mm (463.66 in)
Continent: Asia

Cherrapunji record sign
Cherrapunji holds two Guinness world records for receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year: 26,471 millimetres (1,042.2 in) of rainfall between August 1860 and July 1861 and for receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single month: 9,300 millimetres (370 in) in July 1861. Photo: wikipedia

Cherrapunji (currently the historical name Sohra is more commonly used) is a subdivisional town in the East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is credited as being the wettest place on Earth. But, currently, nearby Mawsynram (see the number one) currently holds that record.

Cherrapunji still holds the all-time record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year: it received 9,300 mm (366 in) in July 1861 and 26,461 mm (1,041.75 in) between 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861. These records are included in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ironically, despite perennial rainfall, Cherrapunji faces an acute water shortage and the inhabitants often have to trek long distances to obtain potable water.

1. Mawsynram, Meghalaya State, India

Average annual rainfall: 11,871 mm (467.36 in)
Continent: Asia

Mawsynram
Mawsynram Village

Mawsynram is reportedly “the official” wettest place on Earth. It is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state. Located only 15 kilometers from Cherrapunji, there’s often dispute between the villages about which should hold the title.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Mawsynram received 26,000 millimeters (1,000 in) of rainfall in 1985.

Unofficial – Two number one candidates

The claim that Mawsynram is the wettest place on Earth is disputed by Lloró, Colombia, which reported an average yearly rainfall of 12,717 millimeters (500.7 in) between 1952 and 1989 and López de Micay, also in Colombia, which reported 12,892 mm (507.6 in) per year between 1960 and 2012. See the article titled New Wettest Place on Earth Discovered? on wunderground blog.

Tired of Rain?

See the top ten driest places on Earth.

Valle de la Luna
There are numerous places on Earth that receive rainfall less than even 0.76 mm annually. One place even receive absolutely no rainfall. Here are the top ten driest places on Earth.

Notes

  1. Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea. Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase.The major monsoon systems of the world consist of the West African and Asia-Australian monsoons. The inclusion of the North and South American monsoons with incomplete wind reversal has been debated.The term was first used in English in British India (now India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) and neighbouring countries to refer to the big seasonal winds blowing from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea in the southwest bringing heavy rainfall to the area. The south-west monsoon winds are called ‘Nairutya Maarut’ in India. Extremely wet or dry events within the monsoon period have increased since 1980.

Sources

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