NBC2 viewer question: Why don’t hurricanes make saltwater rain?


An NBC2 viewer recently messaged asking since hurricanes form over saltwater oceans, why don’t they produce saltwater rain when they move onshore.

That’s an interesting question! The answer involves Earth’s water cycle, and the fact that rain always falls in the form of freshwater, even if the storm that brings it develops over a salty ocean.

How come? Simply put, salt can’t evaporate like water can and does. So even though the ocean may be loaded with it, salt stays behind during the evaporation and condensation process involved with rainfall and the release of latent heat energy hurricanes use to get stronger.

You can see this concept for yourself by putting a pot on your stove with water and salt from your kitchen.

After you shake in the salt, turn up your stove burner and boil away all the water. You’ll notice once the last bit of water evaporates away, all that’s left is a pot full of salt.

Watch the video above for a demonstration from today’s NBC2 News at 3.

It’s important to remember at this time that right now we’re only talking about rain. There is such a thing as salt water flooding during hurricanes, and that’s thanks to storm surge.


Storm surge is when winds around a hurricane push water onto normally dry ground causing flooding. This flooding can happen fast and be exceptionally deep and dangerous.

Hurricane Katrina (2005) was one of the worst storm surge events in US history when some parts of the northern Gulf Coast were inundated by more than 25 feet of water.

Another exception to this would be with waterspouts. Waterspouts act somewhat similar to straws when over water.

If a waterspout was to move onshore becoming a tornado, the water it would throw on the coast would be saltwater since it’s being picked up and thrown from the water toward shore.

But rest assured any rain that may be occurring with that waterspout-turned-tornado would be freshwater.

Tags: Weather blog


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