When a hurricane picks up water from the ocean and drops it on land, is the rain salty?

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Dear Tom,
When a hurricane picks up water from the ocean and drops it on land, is the rain salty?

Marilyn Meiner,
Morton, Ill.

Dear Marilyn,
It is not salty; rainwater is always salt-free. Hurricanes derive their energy primarily from the heat of ocean water (at a temperature generally at or above 80 degrees). That is why hurricanes weaken when they move inland: they are deprived of their main source of energy.

In addition, hurricanes derive their moisture from evaporated ocean water. But when water evaporates and becomes vapor, only pure water evaporates — anything else that is dissolved in the water is left behind and remains in the ocean. Upon condensation, the water that appears is fresh.

However, it’s true that wind-whipped ocean spray is salty because the spray is actually composed of tiny droplets of ocean water.

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