This Day in History (31-Jul-1861) – 9,300 mm rainfall in July in Cherrapunji becomes a world record

Cherrapunji (the old and lately returned name – Sohra), India, is one of the wettest places on Earth, thanks to monsoon rains each year. Cherrapunji is so wet because it gets an almost unimpeded flow of moisture from the Bay of Bengal across the lower elevations of Bangladesh to the south. The city sits on a plateau at about 4,869 feet (1,484 meters), so as the moist air pushes north, it is forced to rise quickly, which forces it to condense into clouds and rain. The moist air upslopes over the area as it attempts to rise into the Himalayas just north of Cherrapunji.

Cherrapunji holds the two-year world record for rainfall with 40,768 mm  of rain from August 1859 to July 1861, as per World Meteorological Organization (WMO). In the same period, it holds the records of rainfall for 12 months to 1 month (9300mm), all ending 31-Jul-1861. It also holds the world record 48-hour rainfall with a whopping 2,493 mm, of rain on June 15-16, 1995, as announced by WMO.

By average annual rainfall, the wettest place is Mawsynram with 11,873 of rain per annum. The second rainiest place is Cherrapunji with an average annual rainfall of 11,430 mm per year, which can actually suffer drought outside the monsoon season. Both the places are in Meghalaya which means ‘land of the clouds’. Powerful rains and high cliffs lead to another spectacular phenomenon – tall waterfalls. Khasi Hills contain several of the most impressive waterfalls of India. Especially great are the approximately 335 m tall Nohkalikai Falls near Cherrapunji.



This Day in History (29-Jul-1979) – Rain Day – Waynesburg’s Claim to Fame

July 29th may be just another day to the rest of the world, but to the residents of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, USA, it has a special significance that is passed along from generation to generation. It all started during the late 1800’s at a drugstore located on High Street (the main street in town). A farmer was in the drugstore and mentioned that it would rain the next day, July 29. When asked how he knew, he replied that it was his birthday and that it always rained on his birthday. This comment inspired William Allison, the pharmacist to keep an annual record of the rainfall on that day. William’s brother, Albert, continued recording this mystical event; then, sometime during the 1920’s, the record keeping was taken over by the late Bryon Daily.

Rain Day would have remained a local phenomenon if it hadn’t been for the efforts of the late Waynesburg newsman John O’Hara. He began sending Rain Day stories to other newspapers in the 1930’s. Today, newspapers, TV and radio stations from around the world flood the town of Waynesburg with calls every July 29th to learn if it has indeed rained. For many years, the only observances of Rain Day were the annual “hat bet” between Bryon Daily’s son, John and a national or regional celebrity and a brief ceremony on the Courthouse steps. In 1979, the Waynesburg Borough Special Events Commission was created to hold a special celebration on July 29th each year. That same year, the Waynesburg Area Chamber of Commerce held the first annual Miss Rain Day Pageant.

Harry Anderson, star of TV’s Night Court, was the unsuspecting bettor in 1988; that year it didn’t rain, so the commission sent Harry a hat. The hat appeared on the bookshelves behind his desk on the set for several episodes next to his armadillo. In 2003, the Chamber of Commerce created a new non-profit entity, Rain Day Scholarship, Inc. with the sole purpose to plan and execute the pageant. Each year, one talented local teenage girl wins the coveted crown, hundreds of dollars in scholarship savings bonds and the chance to ‘reign’ over the day’s festivities.



This Day in History (22-Apr-1970) – Earth Day is celebrated for the first time

The idea of Earth Day came to founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student’s Vietnam anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. As a result, on the 22nd of April 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator of the event in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations mobilizing 200 million people. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. EDN’s international network reaches over 22,000 organizations in these countries, coordinating thousands of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year. Nelson was later awarded the  the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States.