The driest and wettest places across the globe

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With all the extremes going on across our planet, I do get questions from time-to-time about the wettest and driest places.

For the wettest spot in the world, Cherrapunji, located in the Khasi Hills of Assam in northeastern India, holds the all-time global record for 12 consecutive months. From August 1860 through July of 1861, Cherrapunji measured an amazing 1,041.78 inches of precipitation, nearly 87 feet of rain!

The town of Lloro, Colombia, in South America, claims more than 1,100 inches of precipitation fell during the calendar year of 1936, while the U.S. was suffering through the peak of the 1930s Dust Bowl.

The wettest place in the 50 states is located along the eastern slopes of Mount Waialeale at 5,075 feet on the island of Kauai. The average annual precipitation on Mount Waialeale over the past 60 years has been about 462.47 inches. Pu’u Kukui, on the island of Maui, at 4,125 feet, averages 413.61 inches a year and holds the all-time U.S. annual rainfall record of 705.44 inches set during the El Nino year of 1982. Pu’u Kukui also holds the monthly U.S. record for most precipitation established in March of 1942 with 107.34 inches.

The wettest spot in North America lies to the southeast of Little Port Arthur in Canada’s province of British Columbia. Henderson Lake averages 256.43 inches of precipitation a year.

The U.S. claims the wettest year on record set in 1976, when Alaska’s MacLeod Harbor weather station measured ed an incredible 332.26 inches of rain. Of this total, 71.80 inches fell in the month of November, also a North American record.

Here in the Inland Empire, the most precipitation the Spokane International Airport ever recorded for an entire year was 26.07 inches back in 1948. Coeur d’Alene measured its all-time annual high precipitation total of 43.27 inches in 2012.

The most arid spot on Earth is Chile’s Atacama Desert about 18 degrees south of the Equator. Often years pass without any measurable moisture being gauged at a small village called Arica. A neighboring town, Iquique, once went an amazing 11.5 years without rain, from November of 1945 to May of 1957. The normal annual rainfall at Arica is just 0.03 inches. Iquique averages a mere .07 inches.

The polar regions are likewise extremely dry. The South Pole Station in Antarctica in the past five decades has averaged only 0.08 inches of melted snowfall. Arctic Bay, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, averages only 0.09 inches of moisture in a calendar year. The driest year ever was 1949 with 0.05 inches of precipitation.

The longest rainless stretch in time on record in the country occurred at Baghdad, California, when no measurable rain fell for 767 consecutive days from Oct. 3, 1912 to Nov. 8, 1914, more than two full years!

Locally in the Inland Empire, the driest year on record for both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene was in 1929, the year the stock market crashed. Only 7.54 inches of precipitation was measured in Spokane in 1929 compared to the annual normal of about 16 and-a-half inches. Coeur d’Alene, much wetter with an average rainfall since 1895 of 26.77 inches, gauged 15.18 inches in 1929.

In terms of our local weather, July will likely end up with below-normal precipitation as the average for the month is 0.92 inches. So far, we’ve only seen a puny 0.03 inches as this is one of the driest summers in history followed by a record wet spring season. Temperatures have been above average levels, about 5 degrees for July, with more very warm to hot weather expected this week.

August is expected to be another month with warmer than normal temperatures, especially early in the month. There should be an increase in afternoon shower and thunderstorm activity, but there will be a lot of nice days to enjoy. The normal precipitation for August in Coeur d’Alene is 1.23 inches.

The upcoming fall season should see a weather pattern that eventually “flips” to the cooler and wetter side. This should happen in October or by the early portion of November. And, as I mentioned last week, with sea-surface temperatures staying close to normal, snowfall totals this upcoming winter of 2017-18 are expected to be near to slightly above the normal of 69.7 inches. Stay tuned.

Contact Randy Mann at longrangeweather com.

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