Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mawsynram vs Waialeale

Mawsynram, 9 km from Sohra, more famous by its erstwhile name Cherrapunjee, is the wettest place on earth. Over the last few years, it received an average rainfall of 467.4 inches of rain. Both these places are in Meghalaya. Now, Mawsynram’s position is under challenge from a mountain in Hawaii.

Sohra, which receives 450 inches of rain annually, is not even the second-wettest place on earth.
It has been upstaged by Mount Waialelale on the Hawaii Islands, which gets 460 inches of rain every year. The US has been pushing Mt Waialeale for quite some time now. It rains almost every day, albeit lightly, on that 5,148 ft mount owing to marine conditions. But the fact is, Sohra and Mawsynram record more rainfall during the monsoon and while the rainfall area on Mt Waialeale is 5 sq km, Sohra-Mawsynram is over 200 sq km.

Meteorologists agree that Sohra has been recording less rainfall in recent years- 11,414.6 mm or 449.4 inches in 2008 compared to 14,790.8 mm or 582.31 inches in 2004. Ditto with Mawsynram, where rainfall records are maintained periodically. There isn’t much deviation in the average annual rainfall but the spread is less. Deforestation has turned much of the Sohra area into a rocky, barren expanse, and this could eventually dent Mawsynram’s record. Along with local organisations, green measures are being promoted in the area. The Khasi Students’ Union, too, is pulling its weight to help Sohra regain its rainier-than-Mt Waialeale record.

Ecologists are blaming it on global warming and on local factors like deforestation and limestone quarrying. But they aren’t ready to concede “defeat” yet.