What If It Rained in One Gigantic Drop

If just 1 inch of rain fell over an area of 5,000 acres, the amount of water would be enough to fill almost 3-and-a-half million 40-gallon bathtubs! Imagine all the bubble baths! But what would happen if all this rainwater gathered in one gigantic raindrop and fell to the earth?

So, it’s a stifling day in the middle of July, and you’re staying outside, trying to catch a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, you spot a dark cloud growing on the horizon. “Finally,” you think. “I wouldn’t mind a cool shower!” But then, as the cloud is coming closer, you notice that it doesn’t look like a regular cloud. For one, it’s too big. And secondly, it’s narrower at the bottom and spreads wider at the top…

  • This drop, which is almost a mile across, appears several miles above the ground where rain usually condenses.
  • The raindrop is rushing toward the ground at 200 miles per hour. Its outer layer gets whipped up into spray and turns into foam after mixing with the air.
  • At the moment of impact, the water is already moving at 450 miles per hour.
  • Mere seconds before the monstrosity touches the ground, the grass right under the middle of the drop catches fire.
  • And what would happen to you if you stood right under the center of the falling drop? Well, assuming that the drop was symmetrical, the water would just fall around your body and wouldn’t sweep you away.
  • Its pressure equals 155 atmospheres, and it’s 155 times more than what you feel on land at sea level.
  • The soil simply explodes in the places where the water hits it. But the bedrock underneath is unyielding. It forces the water to rush sideways, destroying everything in its path.
  • In a matter of minutes, all that’s left for miles around is bedrock covered with pools of mud.
  • If the drop has fallen in a place surrounded by mountains, their ridges prevent the water from spreading further. Instead, massive streams surge to rivers and lakes and fill the valleys.
  • The largest raindrops ever recorded fell from the sky in Brazil in 1995 and on the Marshall Islands in 1999. They measured roughly a third of an inch across!
  • There’s so-called “phantom rain,” when raindrops falling from a cloud evaporate when they’re nearing the Earth’s surface.
  • Usually, rain starts as snow. Clouds consist of teeny crystals of ice and freezing cold water.
  • Large drops of rain fall faster than their smaller mates.
  • Large raindrops can accelerate up to 20 miles per hour.
  • That’s why it usually takes such a drop around 2 minutes to reach the ground if it’s falling from 2,500 ft, which is where most rainclouds hang out.
  • But if a raindrop is smaller, it may need up to 7 minutes to fall to the ground.


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