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Why people listen to it to relax, where is it seen most often and what is its smell called - everything you need to know about rain!

  • Some interesting facts to consider when all you can think about is rain
  • What shape raindrops are and why
  • How rainfall sounds can make you relaxed and calm

We've seen one of the wettest and most dismal Junes in Manchester. So while many of you may not want to go out while the heavens are open, here are some interesting facts about the rain.

Firstly, the classic teardrop shape rain is drawn as in cartoons is actually incorrect. Rain starts out as a perfect sphere, because the particles rearrange themselves into a shape with the smallest possible surface area due to a lack of resistance. However, once a raindrop starts hitting other raindrops and meets air resistance, it flattens out into a jelly bean shape.

We all know clouds of water vapour become heavier as more of the vapour becomes liquid, but did you know it actually mostly solidifies in the clouds and warms up into water on its descent.

Portland Street in rain
A wet night on Portland Street. Photo courtesy of Bob Harvey on Geograph

Rain takes an average of two minutes to fall from cloud to ground at an average speed of 14mph.

This happens most often in the village of Mawsynram in India which receives about ten times the amount of annual rainfall the UK does. The wettest day recorded in Britain was in December 2015 when a part of Cumbria received 341.4mm of rainfall in a 24-hour period.

Have you ever noticed that rain has a smell, particularly afterwards? This is created, essentially, by rain bouncing dust particles upwards when it hits the ground, and diffusing them all around in the air. This smell is called 'petrichor'.

Curry Mile rain
Most mancunians know the pain of waiting for a bus in the rain. Photo courtesy of Ben Sutherland on Flickr

The gentle patter of rainfall outside feels peaceful and calming to many people, to the point where you can find playlists of hours worth of rain sounds to relax and fall asleep to.

The reason this works is two-fold. Firstly the kind of sound gentle rain makes is not interpreted as a threat by the brain like sharp or sudden noises are, and so the brain perceives it as safe and welcoming. Secondly, the constant nature of the sound will cover up irregular noises in silence, such as a pipe banging or a car going past, and this constant white noise effect is like an auditory pillow!

Finally, if you get caught outside when a downpour starts, should you continue walking at the same speed, or run to escape the rain as fast as possible? The answer, sadly, depends on a lot of variables, including wind direction, your height, breadth and gait and how light or heavy the rain is.

In general, however, it's more likely to get less wet the less time you spend in the rain, so running might be your best option. Just make sure not to fall!

Embed from Getty Images

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