How much do you know about rain?

little girl with colorful umbrella
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From spring showers to summer thunderstorms, rain can fall any time of year. But how does it work?

Question 1 of 12

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What are raindrops shaped like?

That teardrop shape we think of when we think of rain? It's just not true, says Alistair Fraser, emeritus professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University who runs the BadRainFAQpage. Fraser says small raindrops can be spherical, but larger ones form a shape that looks more like a hamburger bun.

Question 2 of 12

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Where is the world's driest spot?

While most of Antarctica is covered with a thick layer of ice, Dry Valleys is a dry, mostly ice-free area filled with rocks and boulders and a few frozen lakes. The area is so barren that scientists are able to use it to recreate Mars because the two places have so much in common, according to IceStories, a site run by polar scientists.

Question 3 of 12

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How fast can rain fall?

The typical speed depends on the size of the drop, thanks to gravity and frictional drag, according to the Weather Guys, professors in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UW-Madison. A large raindrop travels at about 20 mph while a small raindrop races at only about 2 mph.

Question 4 of 12

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Question 5 of 12

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One inch of rain equals how many inches of snow?

On average, 13 inches of snow equals one inch of rain in the U.S., although this ratio can vary from two inches for sleet to nearly 50 inches for very dry, powdery snow under certain conditions. That's according to the National SevereStorms Laboratory.

Question 6 of 12

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Where is the wettest place in the world?

According to Guinness World Records, by average annual rainfall, the wettest place is Mawsynram, Meghalaya, India, with 467 inches of rain each year. Most of that occurs between June and September, during monsoon season. Fittingly, Meghalaya means "land of the clouds."

Question 7 of 12

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What causes that unique smell after it rains?

The phenomenon is called petrichor, from the Greek roots petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of gods in Greek mythology). According to the Weather Guys, there's a bacterium called actinomycete that thrives in the organic materials in damp warm soil. Rain kicks up the spores in the bacterium and makes them airborne and that's what we smell.

Question 8 of 12

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Instead of water, diamonds could be raining on other planets.

According to the BBC, planetary scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory theorize that on Saturn and Jupiter, lightning storms turn methane in the atmosphere into carbon, which hardens as it falls. It turns into graphite, and then eventually diamonds. (Maybe.)

Question 9 of 12

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What's the most rain that fell in one place in 24 hours?

A record 73 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Cilaos, Reunion, in the Indian Ocean between March 15 and 16, 1952, according to Guinness World Records.

Question 10 of 12

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The faster you run to get out of the rain, the drier you will be.

Forget your umbrella and you're caught in a downpour? It seems like common sense, but the faster you get out of the rain, the drier you'll be says Henry Reich, the brains behind the YouTube Channel MinutePhysics. Mythbusters busted his explanation, but then revisited it and found Reich was right. Watch the explanation here:

Question 11 of 12

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Sometimes it just rains on one side of the street.

Most things have a beginning and an end, points out the National Severe Storms Laboratory. That includes rain, which has to start somewhere and end somewhere and sometimes that means it starts on one side of the street and moves away, leaving the other side of the street dry.

Question 12 of 12

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​Which spot in the world has the most rainy days?

Mt. Wai'ale'ale, Kauai, Hawaii has up to 350 rainy days each year and receives 450 inches of rain each year, according to Guinness World Records. Waialeale means “rippling water” or “overflowing water” in Hawaiian.

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little girl with colorful umbrella
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