A slow-moving weather system in early July unleashed astonishing amounts of water in a short period of time across the U.S. Northeast, causing rivers to swell and flooding streets, homes, and businesses.
Several inches of rain dropped over 48 hours in parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Vermont received the brunt of the deluge, hit with two months’ worth of rain in a matter of hours. The storm conjured bad memories of Hurricane Irene in 2011, the greatest natural disaster to hit the Granite State since 1927, according to the National Weather Service. (Here is the worst natural disaster in every state.)
Instruments measured more than 9 inches of rain over 24 hours in the town of Plymouth, Vermont, while 7 inches of rain fell over four hours further south at the West Point Military Academy in New York’s Hudson Valley. At least one person was reportedly killed in New York as she attempted to escape her flooded home.
While this weather system inundated the region, it does not come close to past U.S. records for the largest amount of rain over a period of time. For example, a storm in July 1942 dumped as much as 23 inches of rain over three hours in the town of Smethport, in north-central Pennsylvania. That storm also holds the U.S. record for the most rain in 60 minutes, six hours, and 12 hours.
Similarly, Waipa Garden on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai holds the U.S. record for the most rain in a 24-hour period after a storm in April 2018 dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in that amount of time. That storm also holds the U.S. record for the most rain in 18 hours (42.5 inches) and 48 hours (54.4 inches).
To identify the record rainfalls in the U.S., 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center USA Record Precipitation Measurements, published by the NWS. Data was last updated by the NWS on Nov. 10, 2021, and some records are estimates. Record rainfalls are ordered by their duration, from one minute to one year. Some rainstorms broke multiple records for the amount of rain dumped over a period of time.
The longest-running U.S. rainfall record dates back to July 1889, when 19 inches of rain fell in 2.17 hours in Rockport, West Virginia. Two of the 20 weather events on the list, one in the Big Bend region of west Texas in May 1935 and the other one in Holt, Missouri, in June 1947, also hold the world record for the most amount of rain over 2.75 hours and 42 minutes, respectively. Speaking of, these are the largest rain storms ever recorded on Earth.
Here are the record rainfalls in the US – from 1 minute to 1 year.
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