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Tuesday Trivia: The wettest and driest places on earth

Staff report • Feb 19, 2019 at 3:30 PM

If the wet weather has you wondering about rain, here are some Tuesday Trivia quick facts from Reader's Digest:

• “It may be covered with ice, but Antarctica gets only 6.5 inches of rain or snow per year, making it the continent with the lowest annual rainfall by far. On the other end of the spectrum, Lloro, Colombia, absorbs more than 500 inches of rainfall per year. North America is relatively dry by comparison, collecting 256 inches of rain annually.”

• ”Generally speaking, if you see a cumulonimbus cloud (a tall, puffy cloud that looks flat at the top), or a nimbostratus cloud (a flat low-level gray cloud), you can be fairly certain that rain is in the 24-hour forecast.”

• “Water doesn’t smell like anything, so why does rain produce a pleasant aroma after it falls? Well, it’s because of a molecule, called geosmin, created by soil-dwelling bacteria. When rain falls, it creates air pockets, which contain small amounts of geosmin. The rain traps and then releases these air pockets, dispersing geosmin into the air, where it’s free to travel to human sniffers. The smell of rain even has a name: ‘petrichor.’ ”

• “The “raindrop” designation is actually a misnomer, since scientists have concluded that rain is not actually shaped like a teardrop. When water molecules condense and bind together in the atmosphere before falling, they form a more-or-less spherical shape. As they fall, they encounter air pressure, flattening the bottom of the drops, so that they end up taking on a shape more like a hamburger bun.”

• ”In a single day in July 1979, Tropical Storm Claudette dropped a whopping 43 inches of rain on a small Texas town called Alvin. Alvin, which is just south of Houston, held the record for the most rainfall in the United States in 24 hours — until 2018. In April of that year, a rain gauge in the Hawaiian town of Hanalei recorded 49.69 inches of rainfall in one day.”

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