Do you know where in the world the extremes of our climate occur? If not, then read on:
The Wettest Place on Earth
According to experts, Mawsynram in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, Northeast India, is officially the wettest place on earth. The town has an annual average rainfall of 11,871 mm (39 ft). In 1985, an unbelievable 26,000 mm (85 ft 4 in) of rain fell on the town in a single year. The most rainfall recorded in a 24-hour period at Mawsynram was 989 mm (3 ft 3 in) on 10 July 1952.
Meteorologists attribute Mawsynram’s extremely wet climate to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal. The moist winds from the bay blow directly over the town, facilitating an extra-long annual monsoon season. The rains generally last from April to October.
The Driest Place on Earth
The driest place on Earth is a 4,800 sq. km snow-free area of Antarctica known as the ‘McMurdo Dry Valleys’. Many experts agree that it has not rained there for some two million years. The only living thing that survives there is a rock-dwelling organism known as cyanobacteria. The general landscape has been likened to that of Mars.
Excluding the poles, the Atacama Desert located on the Pacific coast of South America (Argentina and Chile) is the driest place on earth. It records less than 1 mm of precipitation each year, though some areas have not seen any rainfall for more than 500 years.
The Coldest Place on Earth
According to experts, the coldest place in the world is the Eastern Antarctic Plateau in Antarctica. Taken over a high ridge on the Antarctic Ice Sheet, the lowest temperature that has ever been recorded is −98 °C (−144 °F).
The village of Oymyakon in the Oymyakonsky District of the Sakha Republic, Russia is the coldest permanently inhabited settlement on the planet. The average temperature during the winter months (December to February) is −50 °C (−58 °F). However, the coldest month is January where the monthly average temperature can fall below −60 °C (−76 °F). In January 1924, an unofficial temperature reading of −71.2 °C (−96.2 °F) was taken at the village.
The Hottest Place on Earth
The aptly named Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California is the place that is generally considered the hottest place in the world. The official highest temperature ever recorded was 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) on 10 July 1913. The annual average summer temperature of Death Valley is usually above 45 °C (113 °F), while the hottest days often top 49 °C (120 °F).
In 2005, the highest-ever land surface temperature was recorded in the Dasht-e Lut salt desert in Iran at an absolute scorching 70.7 °C (159.3 °F). In 2016, the highest verified temperature at a permanent settlement was recorded as 54 °C (129.2 °F) in the city of Mitribah, Kuwait.
The Windiest Place on Earth
Both the Guinness Book of World Records and National Geographic Atlas list Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica as the windiest place on earth. Its katabatic (travelling downhill) winds are often recorded at over 150 mph and the annual average daily wind speed is computed in excess of 44 mph. In 1912, the highest-ever wind speed in the area was recorded as 168 mph at Cape Denison.
The planet’s windiest major settlement is Wellington in New Zealand. The most blustery city in the world has an annual average wind speed of around 16 mph. The greatest-ever wind speed recorded in the city is 125 mph.
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