Which cities around the globe get the most rain?

When thinking of cities and rain, your first thoughts might be that Manchester in England is one of the rainiest cities, or perhaps Seattle in the United States.  Rain can create problems in cities all over the world.

Without available soil to absorb the rain, blockages and overflowing drains can cause havoc and often leads to cities coming to a standstill, preventing people from going about their daily business – causing power outages and connectivity problems – it could even impact your ability to access your Fairgo casino login (gasp!).

Some cities do manage water problems better than others but it is not an easy task to identify the world’s rainiest city.

Where does it rain the most?

According to a map of World Bank data, countries getting the most rain are located close to the equator. That is, South America, central west Africa and the islands of south east Asia.  It doesn’t mention cities, only countries.  However, there is more detailed data to be found online for each of these places that has been gathered from local weather stations.

According to the data, the highest rainfalls are in places that are the most remote and are mostly uninhabited. In Asia, for example two towns Mawsynram and Cherrapunjii, both in north east India, are both considered “the wettest places on Earth”. Mawsynram appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the wettest with 11,871mm. That is over 10 times the Indian national average which is 1,083mm.

If we look only at only big cities, like Mumbai in India, where the average yearly rainfall is 2,386mm, or Singapore where it is 2,378mm either could be considered the rainiest city. But, also Manila in the Philippines where the annual rainfall is 2,047mm or Jakarta in Indonesian which gets 1,855mm annually.

According to the Liberian Hydrological Services, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, in Africa receives an annual rainfall that can go beyond 5,000mm.  This could be due to its location being right at the point where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.  Residents call it the “wettest capital city”. More than 1 million people live in this port city, where only in the month of July the city gets about 966mm of rain. With so much rain during the rainy season, the city faces enormous challenges as the roads are often filled with running water.

Hawaii’s city of Hilo is often said to get the most rain of all US cities with an annual rainfall of 3,459mm.   Hilo is located in the north-east of Big Island and gets all the rain whereas the south west of Big Island is relatively dry.

In Columbia, in South America they also get lots of rain. The city of Quibdo is considered the wettest in the whole world with an average rainfall of 7,328mm per year.   The city is fairly remote and has a population of around 125,000.  It is located on the banks of the Atrato River and is encircled by a tropical rainforest. From the coast, it is only possible to reach the city by air.

Quibdo does not have a reliable source of drinking water and according to academic Edwar Calderon “In Quibdo people live from rain water…About 85% of the population drink water collected in containers on their rooftops. People with money can afford to buy bottles of water, but most of the population is poor so they collect and then boil the rainwater. It is an essential part of life.”  At the same time, however, it causes havoc in the city.  Caldern says “It will rain very heavily for four or five hours at a time and people get stuck under shelter where they are for the whole of that time.”

Lopez de Micay and Lloro, two smaller areas in Columbia also get a huge amount of rain.  Lopez de Micay got an average annual rainfall of 12,892mm between 1960 and 2012 which pushes it right up there as the rainiest place, even beats Mawsyram in India.  Lloro also had an estimated annual rainfall between 1952 and 1989 of 12,717 mm.   But both are small places with much smaller populations and not nearly as big or as populated as the city of Quibdo.

And in the Northern Hemisphere…

Many cities in Britain and also in the north of America have a lot of rainy, drizzly days but not so many days where there are heavy downpours.  Places like Manchester in England and Seattle in the US are known as rainy cities but in actual fact the data does not necessarily agree with that.

According to a Meteorlogical Office study in 2014, the city of Cardiff has the most rain of all UK cities with an average rainfall each year of 1,152. Next in line came Glasgow.  Manchester got eighth place with only 867mm!

And the same is true for Seattle.  Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist says “When I made the map about the rainiest places in the US, I found that Seattle averages 950mm of precipitation annually, and that is very close to the average value for the entire US. Around 45% of the US is wetter than Seattle, counting both rain and melted snow.”  He goes on to say “When I published the map on Twitter, a lot of people in Seattle were very upset about it.  They take a lot of pride in it being rainy.  But somewhere south, like Texas, gets more.  It’s just that it falls in about a third of the days that Seattle has rain – whereas there it’s overcast and frequently drizzly.”

To try to offset the disappointment felt by the residents of Seattle, Brettschhneider did a new study and termed it places that have the “dreariest weather” which included grey, wet and cloudy days.   Brettschneider said “Seattle came very high on that list.  It is one of the dreariest cities in the US.”