9 Surprising Facts About The Rain

9 Surprising Facts About The Rain

Feb 06
9 Surprising Facts About The Rain

It’s raining outside right now. It’s pouring, actually, but this old man isn’t snoring. I’m sitting at my computer with a snifter of brandy, musing on the rain as it taps fitfully at the window beside me. What do we know about the rain? Are there any facts untapped, mysteries that could unfold before us? Here are six of the most surprising rain facts I could dig up.

Rain Drops

1. Sometimes Rain Never Reaches The Ground

Not every rain drop that falls from a cloud actually reaches the ground. In a phenomenon known as “phantom rain,” rain drops fall out of a cloud, but evaporate or sublimate before they reach the Earth’s surface. Phantom rain (rain that evaporates mid-air) creates what are known as Virga Clouds, which appear to be a tail or wisp emanating from the bulk of a rain cloud. Phantom rain is most common where it’s hot and dry.

2. Rain’s Unmistakable Smell

That strange, particular scent you smell after it rains? That’s called “petrichor,” and it comes any time rain falls on wet soil or clay. Why? When rain drops on a porous surface, like soil, escaping air from the pores forms small bubbles, which float to the surface, pop and release a vapor. That’s how the smell is transmitted into the air, but where does it come from in the first place? It turns out that there are two sources responsible for the particular compounds that give petrachor such a pleasant scent. During dry periods, certain periods exude a special oil, which is absorbed by the ground. Along with compounds produced by certain strains of actinobacteria, this plant oil gets trapped in the little bubbles, thus producing the scent of petrichor.

3. Some Raindrops Are Fast

How long do raindrops fall through the air before they hit the ground? According to Weather.com, the average speed of a raindrop is around 14 mph, while the average cloud height is 2,500. After a short calculation, that means the average raindrop would take 2 minutes to reach Earth.

But the speed of a raindrops depends on its size – some very small raindrops can take up to seven minutes to reach the ground, while very large drops may fall at speeds of up to 20 mph.

4. There’s A LOT Of Rain

Every minute, a total of one billion tons of rain falls on the earth.

5. The World’s Wettest Place

Mawsynram, a village in the Meghalaya state of northeast India, takes the cake for wettest place in the world, receiving an average of 471 mm of rainfall every year. By comparison, most regions of North America only collect about 256 inches of rain on an annual basis.

6. The World’s Dryest Place

It’s not where you’d expect. Most people would probably guess the desert, but the world’s driest place is also the iciest – Antarctica. The continent only receives an average of 6.5 inches of rain or snow every year.

7. Rain Isn’t Always Made Of Water

On Venus, what we refer to as rain is made of sulfuric acid or methane, not good old H2O. Weirder yet, on a planet 5,000 light years away, scientists discovered raindrops made of iron. Imagine metal rain.

8. Rain Makes Grass Greener

Rain contains dissolved nitrogen that is absorbed from the surrounding air. When this natural fertilizer reaches the ground, it actually makes grass greener and more lush.

9. Where It Never Stops Raining

On Mount Waialeale in Kauai, Hawaii, it never stops raining. The mountain has up to 350 rainy days every year.

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