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Top 10 locations with extreme meteorological conditions

10 locations with extreme meteorological conditions

Extreme weather conditions happen in different places of the world but there are very few places on Earth where extreme weather conditions are present frequently or even all the time.

Below you see unique list of 10 such locations, which are listed in alphabetic order.

All these monuments belong to the category of Sites of meteorological phenomena.

Catatumbo Lightning
Thunderstorm in Zulia, view from Congo village , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Catatumbo Lightning - most persistent thunderstorm

Venezuela, Zulia

The most persistent and most spectacular thunderstorm in the world is Catatumbo Lightning. This is nearly continuous thunderstorm with up to 20,000 flashes of lightning per night, seen 140 - 160 nights per year and lasting approximately 10 hours long. It produces approximately 10% of tropospheric ozone in the world.

We do not know when started the Catatumbo Lightning started but this phenomenon has become a part of the tales of indigenous people.

Waterfalls near Cherrapunji
335 m tall Nohkalikai Falls falling from Cherrapunji plateau are fed just by 2 km long stream. Without heavy rains it would be much smaller / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

2. Cherrapunji (Sohra) and Mawsynram - incredible amounts of rain

India, Meghalaya

Some of the most powerful rain downpours are observed in Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.

Since 1871 meteorological records have been collected in the beautiful Cherrapunji town, where have been registered several world records, such as maximum yearly rainfall (24,555 mm in 1974) and rainfall in one month (9,300 mm in July 1861). But the nearby Mawsynram village seems to get even more rain - average annual rainfall here is 11,873 mm.

Incredible amounts of rain make this place special, it has unique plant life and unique traditions and clothing of local Khasi people.

Most likely there are several locations with more precipitation but none could be that spectacular.

Antarctic desert at Dome C, Antarctica
This is Dome C, 1200 km from Dome A, taken from 32 m height. Landscape at Dome A looks the same / Stephen Hudson, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

3. Dome A - possibly the coldest place on the surface


The eventual coldest place on Earth is located on one of the highest places of Antarctica - on Dome A (Dome Argus). Thus far the lowest measured temperature reached here -82.5°C (July 2005) but scientists consider that it might fall even as low as -102°C.

Landscape in Lut Desert, Iran
Plain in Lut Desert. This is not Gandom Beryan but has similarities, including the lack of life / ninara, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

4. Gandom Beryan in Lut Desert - the hottest land surface

Iran, Kerman

There are several contenders for the title "The hottest place on Earth" but Gandom Beryan in Lut Desert, Kerman province is one of the few where this is proven with scientific methods.

Data collected in 2003 - 2005 by MODIS system mounted on NASA's "Aqua" satellite shows that the hottest place on Earth is located in Lut Desert, Iran. Temperature of the lifeless soil here often heats up to 71°C.

Winter at Mawson Hut, Cape Denison, Antarctica
Storm at Mawson Hut. Frank Hurley, 1911-1914 / State Library of New South Wales.

5. Commonwealth Bay, Cape Denison - the windiest place


Mean annual speed of wind at Cape Denison is 80 km per hour (22 m per second). Meteorologists consider that storm begins at 24.5 km/h - thus the mean weather in Cape Denison is almost storm, and, as this is Antarctica - this storm is very very cold.

Maximum speed of the unusual katabatic wind here might reach 320 km/h.

Frequency of lightning strikes on tropical belt of Earth, 1998 - 2010
Frequency of lightning strikes in tropical belt of Earth, 1998 - 2010 / NASA/MSFC, Lighting Imaging Sensor, 2010. Public domain

6. Kifuka village - site with most lightning strokes

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sud-Kivu

Kifuka experiences violent thunderstorms unprecedented anywhere else in the world. Each square kilometre experiences approximately 158 lightning strikes per year - one lightning strike per 6,300 square metres. In Europe north from Alps density and frequency of lightning is 150 - 300 times lower.

Storm in Markansu dry valley, Tajikistan
Dust storm in Markansu dry valley - Valley of Tornadoes / rugbyxm, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Markansu Valley - Valley of Tornadoes - site with most frequent dust whirlwinds

Tajikistan, Kuhistoni-Badakhshon Autonomus Province

Markansu Valley is dry, lifeless valley high up in Pamir mountains.

In afternoons here starts very strong wind, which rises dust and countless whirlwinds. They often reach the strength of tornadoes and are very dangerous - there are reports about camels with all their burdens lifted by winds. People in earlier times believed that these are real, fearsome spirits - jinns.

Laguna Caliente in Poas crater in white color
Laguna Caliente - lake of pure acid in Poás crater / Richie Diesterheft, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

8. Poás Volcano and Laguna Caliente - site with the most acid rain

Costa Rica, Alajuela

Around the acid crater lake of Poás Volcano the acidity of fog and rain is around 2.0 of pH and may be even less. As a result around the crater and to the west from it there has formed some 3.5 km long and 1 km wide, lifeless, naked scar surrounded by jungle.

Effects of the volcanic acid rain extend far beyond this scar. In vicinities the farm equipment, cars and home untensils become rusty, roofs of the buildings are damaged. Often tourists have been rescued from the nature trails to avoid potential health problems due to acid fog - sometimes tourists have been running out of the fog coughing and with runny eyes.

9. Ridge A - site with the clearest sky


If somebody would like to get the most exciting results of astronomical research without leaving the Earth, Ridge A is the exact place to install his astronomical equipment. Astronomical images taken here would be three times sharper than in the best current observatories and their quality would be comparable with the quality of images taken in space.

Most likely no one has been in this place thus far.

Yungay, Chile
Landscape near Antofagasta, not too far from Yungay / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

10. Yungay - the driest place

Chile, II Antofagasta

The driest place on Earth is Yungay. This is highly unusual place which has attracted attention of astrobiologists due to high similarity to Mars environment. Only lately, after intense search here have been found some microorganisms in some places.

Soil here is covered with nitrogen salts falling over millions of years from the air as a result of photochemical reactions. Elsewhere in the world this nitrogen is dissolved by water and used by life, but here is no water and no life.

Map of 10 locations with extreme meteorological conditions

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Map of unusual meteorological phenomena

10 locations with unusual meteorological phenomena

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