The rain in Florida- a question of salinity.

Rain is usually fresh water, evaporated from some source. In the case of the curent hurricane, the sheer amount of water that is being drawn up off of the ocean and dumped on Florida brings this question to mind.

Is the drenching rain currently falling all fresh water, or was it drawn off the ocean with such force and speed that it has some salinity to it?

Any rain is by the fact of evaporation and condensation fresh water, whether it be a brief summer shower or the pounding rain of a hurricane. There is one sense in which a very minor component of hurricanes making landfall is saline – both the storm surge and the very substantial spray carried by the wind will of course be seawater. And the storm surge can penetrate quite a ways inland under the right circumstances – Floyd brought brackish water from the two big sounds up the low-lying rivers of the N.C. coastal plain for a significant distance. As flat as Florida is, there may well be some significant damage to the fresh water reserves from saline storm surge flows.

I always thought that fresh salty air you get when you’re near the ocean did in fact, have some salt particles in it. No?

I believe you, Polycarp. I wanted to believe you !!! I always thought that rain was only fresh water.

However…it makes me curious. Exactly where is the incredible volume of moisture pulled from? If it’s the ocean ( which makes sense ), then where does that volume of fresh water GO when it’s not being dumped into Florida at the rate of a foot a day?

Is it usually heavy rainstorms over the open ocean, that allows all of the fresh evaporated water to fall back into the oceans- and now the storm has pulled that moisture into the patterns we have watched for days and weeks?

If a hurrican dumps a gallon on Ft. Lauderdale but normally the weather delivers two drops, where does the rest of the gallon to go, if all the rain ( storm surge and whatnot from the sea ) is fresh water evaporated off of the ocean??

The loss of potable water due to brackishness had not occurred to me. Makes it all that much worse yet. Water, water everywhere…and less drops to drink. :frowning:

During Hurricane season, the tropical ocean *and* the air above it are both so warm that a LOT more water than normal can evaporate and *stay* evaporated, with its accumulated latent heat energy, which gets released when the storm system gets going.

The salt stays in the ocean, if I understand your question correctly. The moisture is evaporated from the sea, condenses, and falls as rain, just as in any other storm over the sea. When the rain is over the land, some of the water will eventually find its way back to the sea via rivers, outflows, etc. If the rain is over the sea, it finds its way back directly.

I get it . I do. :slight_smile: I was just…struck by the sheer volume of rain and wondered how it was possible for that much evaporation to occur just because of the hurricane, or if it was the case that there was heightened salination in the storm downfall ( unlikely, I knew ), or if there was always that much evaporation and the water just wasn’t gathered into the hurricane so efficiently, and it just rains a shitload out in the open sea all the time.

The sheer volume of rain in a hurricane is nuttin’ compared to the sheer volume of the ocean itself. :slight_smile:

From somebody who was in Bermuda last year when Hurricane Fabian hit - the water reaching the land is salty, because it’s as much sea spray as it is rain. Much of the vegetation that survived the winds died in the days that followed due to this. And they had salt residue coating everything. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily apply once you get further inland.

There’s another possibility to roil the waters – that waterspouts could be spun off by the hurricane system, skirt near the land, and dump a quantity of sea water (plus fish, etc.) there.

A big hurricane can, over the course of its lifespan, spawn over 50 or even 60 known tornadoes. Presumably, that figure could include waterspouts…?

[Channeling President Reagan at his best]

[/ Channeling Presiden Reagan at his best]


friedo you are of course right. I guess I struggled with the enormity of the vastness of the hugeness of it all. Then again, does this mean that if :

E= total evaporation in the Atlantic Ocean in a single day, and

R= The total rainfall possible back into the ocean water as the result of said evaporation, and

F= The rotational forces of Hurrican Cecil, let’s say, then is is possible that

The amount of rain falling back into the Atlantic during the period of time that Hurricane Cecil is growing and moving is greatly lessened due to the fact that much more available water in the air is used by said Hurricane Cecil, therefore causing the salinity of the Atlantic Ocean to increase significantly and possibly kill off all of the deep-sea giant squids?

( you didn’t possibly think I was going to wind up with some algebra in here, now did you? )

Scrivener, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen anecdotal evidence of waterspouts as common accompanying hurricanes over water – it’s just that nobody sits out on the beach watching a hurricane in the process of making landfall to observe them, as a general rule – or at least lives to tell the story of having done so!

C’verse, I think you have it in a nutshell – and the Reagan thing was inspired! Plus, you may have come up with an answer to the “Libertarian Paradox” :wink:

I’ve spoken to one person who has indeed seen a waterspout make landfall during a hurricane. So yes, it happens.

–Buffs nails proudly-- Polycarp said I answered a paradox !!!