Using a specially designed instrument to give a continuous record of the number and size of raindrops on a time scale, the instantaneous intensity and energy load of tropical rains were assessed. Both the intensity and drop size of rains in the West African savanna are much greater than in temperate climates. The high intensity of tropical storms is due to the larger size and greater number of raindrops falling per unit time. Because the predominant drop size of tropical rains is large, the energy load of storms is high. A high correlation between the average drop volume of rainfall and the amount of rainfall allows for a reliable and convenient estimate of the energy load of storms from the amount of rainfall. The seasonal distribution of the energy load of rains in the West African savannah is similar to the annual distribution of rains. About 58 per cent of the total annual rainfall is erosive, containing two-thirds of the total annual energy load of the rains.