The Wettest City In The U.S. Might Surprise You

What do you think the wettest US city is? Got a guess? Maybe Seattle or somewhere on the Oregon coast? Not quite, you’ll need to go even further west.

The Wettest City In The U.S. Might Surprise You

The wettest city in the United States is actually in Hawaii. Maybe not too surprising, after all, the island gets its lush green mountains and jungle life from somewhere

Mt. Waialeale on the island of Kauai is technically the wettest place in the US, and one of the wettest places on earth. This area, which doesn’t pass as a city, gets a mind-blowing average of 460 inches of rain each year!

When Mt Waialeale is compared with commonly known, large cities like New Orleans—the latter doesn’t even come close at 62.7 inches (on average) each year. But the contest for the wettest city in the US depends heavily on how “city” is defined. 

The Weather Channel uses the benchmark of 1,000 inhabitants as a city. Some might disagree and put that number higher, but based on that criterion the wettest city in the US is Hilo, Hawaii. Like the nearby Mt Waialeale, this beautiful island paradise receives more than its fair share—but doesn’t come close to the levels of precipitation on Kauai. Located on the big island, Hilo gets 146.26 inches on average.

If you love rain, humidity and dew then Hilo is the place to be, as each month averages about 7 inches of rain. November is the rainiest month, averaging over 15 inches of rain. As you move farther up the mountains in this region, rainfalls spike at around 300 inches a year. 

Rainiest Cities & Statistics

As for large cities, the US has quite a few that get more rain than most residents would like, especially during big storms, which can drop several inches of precipitation in a single day. Upstate New York, including Buffalo and Rochester, receive decent yearly rainfall. But the two winners, earning the title of the wettest big cities in America, are...New Orleans, Louisiana at 62.45 inches and Mobile, Alabama with 65.28 inches per year.

On the smaller end of the population scale, there is Astoria, Oregon, which comes in with a respectable 67.26 inches of rain per year. This seaside town of just under 10,000 residents gets most of its moisture between October and April, during which each month averages about five inches.

Some would argue that total precipitation isn’t as important as the number of days of rain or snow, since many days in a row of cloudy skies are what makes it feel rainy. By this measure, upstate New York beats out most other regions. Both Rochester and Buffalo are burdened with, on average, 167 days of rain or snow each year. 

Other cities with enough rainy days to fill more than one-third of the calendar year include Portland (165), Cleveland (155) and Pittsburgh (151). Seattle, with its fearsome reputation for rain and mist, doesn’t quite make the top three, but does come in at 149 rainy days per year. Compare that with the sunniest city in the United States, Yuma, Arizona. Yuma has an incredible 350 days of sun per year. 

The US region with the most rain, in terms of overall annual precipitation, includes the southern states. Port Arthur, Texas makes a good showing, but it’s the nearby cities of Mobile and New Orleans that sit squarely in the “wet zone.” Generally, both Alaska and Hawaii beat out the contiguous US for rainfall—but due to sparser populations, there aren’t too many “cities” in those areas that are big enough to make the cut.