- Cherrapunji, known to locals as Sohra, is located in the East Khasi Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya.
- Sandwiched between Assam in the north and Bangladesh in the south, Meghalaya is a part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot--one of the most threatened biodiversity hotspots in India after the Himalayas--due to rapid resource exploitation and habitat loss.
- The hills of the eastern sub-Himalayas- Garo, Khasi and Jaintia, run through most of Meghalaya, and the rest of the landscape is a high plateau.
- Cherrapunji was declared the wettest land-based location on Earth after it receive an average of 11,872 mm in annual rainfall — more than 10 times India's national average (of 1,083 mm).
What is meant by ‘wettest’?
- When it comes to describing locations on planet Earth in terms of “wet”, some clarifications are needed.
- Here, the average annual precipitation is addressed– i.e. rainfall, snow, drizzle, fog, etc. – measured in mm (or inches).
Reasons for the torrential rains
- The reason for these torrential rains is complex, but, essentially, monsoon clouds from the Bay of Bengal fly over hundreds of kilometers of open, relatively flat terrain to reach Cherrapunji.
- Once the clouds reach Cherrapunji, they are faced with the rather steep rise of the Khasi Hills, and in order to rise with the hills, they must first dump much of their moisture.
- Cherrapunji's location between the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Khasi Hills on the other justifies the heavy rainfall it receives.
- Moisture from the Arabian Sea also brings heavy rainfall to Mahabaleshwar.
Other Important locations:
Beyond northeastern India, there are several other locations on Earth that experience over 10 meters (32.8 feet) of annual precipitation.
- The town of Tutunendo, Colombia, experiences an average of 11,770 mm (463.38 in) of annual rainfall.
- Mount Waialeale, a shield volcano located on the island of Kaua’i on the Hawaiian Islands.
- As the the second highest point on the island, its name literally means “rippling water. This mountain has had an average of 11,500 mm (452 in) of rainfall since 1912.
- However, in 1982, its summit experienced 17,300 mm (683 in), making it the wettest place on Earth in that year.
- Between, 1978-2007, Big Bog – a spot in Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, Hawaii – experienced an average of 10,300 mm (404 in) of rainfall, putting it in the top ten.