March 15/16, 1952: The Rainiest Day in History!

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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.”

Digging Deeper

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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Historical Evidence

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.