A Brief History
On March 15 and 16, 1952, over a 24 hour period the most rain ever recorded in a 24 hour period fell on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, on the area known as Cilaos. An unbelievable 73 inches of the wet stuff fell on Cilaos, a commune first settled by escaped Malagasy slaves known as “Black-Browns.”
Apparently slaves in that area of the world were referred to as “Browns,” and runaway slaves (I prefer the term, escaped slaves) were called “Black-Browns.” Believing themselves safe on the highest ground of the island, these people were soon recaptured by their French overlords. Later, around 1850, this remote part of Reunion became repopulated. In 1900 about 2500 people lived there, and in 1982 the population had grown to over 5600, so the 1952 population was most likely in between those numbers. At around 32.59 square miles, Cilaos is about a third the area of Cleveland, Ohio. Lest you think this gigantic rainfall was a fluke, on January 7/8, 1966 Cilaos was drenched with another 71.9 inches of rain in 24 hours! The island of Reunion also has the records for 12 hour, 72 hour, and 96 hour rainfall.
The US record 24 hour rainfall occurred in Alvin, Texas, June 24/25, 1979, when 43 inches fell in that one day period.
For comparison purposes, here are some annual rainfall numbers for familiar place
44.73 inches (record for 24 hours, 8,28 inches) New York, New York
31 inches Toronto, Ontario, Canada
23 inches London, England
36 inches Chicago, Illinois
24 inches Paris, France
17.13 inches Honolulu, Hawaii
15 inches Los Angeles, California
56 inches Miami, Florida
55.3 inches Tokyo, Japan
71 inches Calcutta, India
37 inches Seattle, Washington
4 inches Las Vegas, Nevada
Average annual rainfall in the US is around 36 inches per year. It is almost impossible to imagine the kind of catastrophe over 70 inches in one day would cause! What are your favorite weather records? Share them with your fellow readers.
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