Monday, April 11, 2011

A Little Rain Must Fall

Photograph: Daniel Berehulak / Getty
You think it rains a lot in Seattle?  Here are some facts (gleaned mostly from meteorologist Spencer Christian's children book, Can It Really Rain Frogs?) that might put Seattle's rain into perspective:

From August, 1860 to August, 1861, the town of Cherrapunji, India received 1,042 inches of rain, which would reach to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

It rains 220 days a year in Juneau, Alaska.

Seattle's annual rainfall is 38.6 inches.  New York City gets 42.8 inches of rain in a year, and Miami gets 57.7.

It hasn't rained for 400 years in some parts of the Atacama Desert of Chile.

As a news man, Christian tells some interesting weather-related stories.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Snails fell with a slow, whirling motion during a light rain shower over Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1869, and a similar report of hundreds of thousands of snails falling from the sky came from Algiers in 1953.

A boy who was walking in the rain in Yuma, Arizona, in 1941, was hit on the shoulder by a falling clam.

Near Dubuque, Iowa, in 1882, a hailstone containing two live frogs fell to the ground.  After the ice melted, the frogs hopped away!

"From 1965 to 1979 a herd of goats grazed on Mt. Nebo near Roseburg, Oregon.  Local people who watched the mountainside every day noticed that the weather was fair and dry when the goats were on the higher part of the mountain, and overcast or rainy when the goats were grazing on the lower slopes.  When the local radio station began giving the daily Goat Weather Forecast, news spread about the clever herd.  The radio station made a comparison of the goats' behavior and the Weather Bureau forecasts, and discovered that the goats, who were right 90 percent of the time, beat out the pros, who were only 65 percent accurate!  At the height of their fame, the goats were featured on national television and in magazines and newspapers around the world."

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