The Quick 10: Rain, Rain, Go Away

So it's been raining here in Des Moines pretty much since Friday night. On and off, but it's so random that you don't want to risk going outside for long periods of time because one second it's sunny and the next second dark clouds are rolling in and the sky opens up and spews forth torrential rains. We've been preoccupied with rain all weekend - my husband with the gutters and me with getting optimal sleep time (sleeping to the sound of rain is the best), so now I'm going to make you preoccupied with it too!

rain1. Seattle is known for being rainy, but it's by far not the rainiest town in the U.S. Washington isn't even the rainiest state in the U.S. or the rainiest state on the west coast! Portland, Oregon, is currently winning that battle with about 45 inches a year. Seattle gets an average of 37.1 inches. The state that gets drenched the most is technically Alaska with 160 inches every year, but if you're going for contiguous states, it's Alabama - Mobile spends nearly two months of every year pulling on galoshes and hoping they know where they left the umbrella.
2. Although you often see rain depicted as teardrop-shaped, it's anything but. What it looks like depends on how big it is. Small drops of rain are just about spherical, bigger ones are rounded on top and flat on the bottom, and really big ones are kind of parachute-shaped. Any bigger than about five mm and they fragment.

3. The biggest rain ever recorded happened in 2004 over Brazil and the Marshall Islands and clocked in at about 10 mm.

4. "Rain Rain, Go Away" has a few different versions. The one I know is "Rain, Rain, Go Away, come again another day." But "Raine raine goe to Spain: faire weather come againe," dates back to the 17th century; "Rain raine goe away,
Come againe a Saturday," was noted in a 1687 book by John Aubrey; and "Rain, rain, go away, Come again another day, Little Arthur wants to play," was published in the mid-19th century. Do you use a different version??

5. If you like the scent after a rain storm, what you really like the aroma of is petrichor. A bunch of plants secrete the oil during dry spells; the oil dries on the ground and rocks around it. When it rains, the drops hit the dry oil, which releases it into the air along with another compound called geosmin. But go ahead and say you love the smell of rain - I don't think anyone is going to correct you. And as a side note, I bet Dwight Schrute could tell you what geosmin is - it's also what makes beets taste earthy.

rain26. Lloró, a town in Chocó, Colombia, is the world's wettest place. Spanish speakers will get the joke - "llorar" means "to cry" in Spanish and is also sometimes used as a metaphor for rain. The town gets an average of 523.6 inches of rain every year - how crazy is that? It wouldn't be out of the ordinary for Lloró to get nearly 20 inches in a single day.
7. Bigger cities are more likely to get rain on Saturdays than small towns or rural areas. Why? In a word: people. All of the pollution humans generate with car exhaust and traffic and stuff like that collects during the week; by Saturday, the likelihood of rain is much higher than any other day of the week (as much as 22% in some places on the Eastern Seaboard).
8. The Mackintosh has been around since 1824. Charles Macintosh patented rubberized fabric in 1823 and his coats were being sold in stores just a year later. No one really knows why the "k" got added in - it seems to have just been an arbitrary marketing decision by a couple of writers somewhere down the line.

9. The maximum speed a raindrop can reach is 18 mph. At this point, the speed friction will make the raindrop break up into smaller particles, so it can't fall any faster.

10. A shower is officially classified as precipitation from a broken, bubble-like cloud. That's why they are so brief. If a shower lasts for more than 20 minutes, it's probably rain, which is precipitation from a layered cloud.

Maybe writing about rain will appease the gods and the sun will break through, but if the forecasters are right, we're in for more rain for the next week on and off. Booooo. So here's where you can help me - what do you do to salvage a rainy day? Looks like I'll have lots of opportunity to put your suggestions to the test over the next seven days or so!

April 27, 2009 - 11:29am
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