Kauai has the wettest spot on Earth. Or does it?


Mount Waialeale is the second highest peak on Kauai and is generally noted by sightseeing tours of Kauai, the Hawaii tourist associations and the general population of the island as having the highest annual rainfall of anywhere on Earth. A more accurate statement might be that for some period of years Mount Waialeale was the wettest spot on Earth.

As anyone who has hung around on this planet for 5, 6 or more decades can attest, the worlds weather is changing. Yearly temperatures have changed, sea levels have changed, snowfall has changed and rainfall has altered to one degree or another almost everywhere. Each rainfall year is different so the smartest way to determine likely rainfall is to average it over a 30 year period and during the thirty year period during the middle of last century it is probable that Mount Waialeale was indeed the wettest spot on earth averaging about 460 inches a year. Greater rainfall has even happened for the summit and in the year 1982 a remarkable 683 inches fell into the rain gage at the top. In the last couple decades however there has actually been a higher average rainfall at Maui's Puu Kukui in the West Maui Mountains but the all time current winner of the wettest spot on earth award actually falls to the remote town of Mawswynam India with the multiple yearly average coming to about 467".

Regardless of who the world champion might be at the moment, there is no question that Mount Waialeale is among the very wettest spots on earth and its rainfall there is in large part what makes Kauai, the garden island, so lush and beautiful. It is likely that Kauai will regain the title at some point in the future as it is located at the top of steep cliffs falling in all directions away from the summit and it can capture rain from any direction. The dramatic rise in altitude in such a short period causes the clouds to release their payload in the limited area of the summit. Kauai being the northern most Hawaiian Island also helps it reap its rainfall benefits because it is the first location that storms and general rain conditions will reach in their journey across thousands of miles of ocean. Mount Waialeale's height of just above 5000 ft. also is just the perfect height because 6000 ft. is the cap of the trade wind inversion zone above which clouds have difficulty ascending.




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