During a hurricane, torrential rains can cause dangerous flooding. Roads turn into rivers, and stranded residents flee to their rooftops.

Stephanie Herring of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that as the climate warms, rainfall during hurricanes is growing more extreme.

“It is likely that greenhouse warming is going to cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have those higher rainfall rates than present day hurricanes,” she says.

Herring explains that the warming atmosphere can hold more water. She compares it to a sponge.

“In a cooler atmosphere, the sponge can only hold so much water,” she says. “In a warmer atmosphere, that sponge can just hold more water. And so as you wring that sponge out, you’re capable of getting some of those more extreme precipitation events.”

Meanwhile, powerful storm surge can cause ocean water to barrel ashore, flooding coastal communities. And rising seas are driving storm surges higher.

Flooding and storm surges cause more than three-quarters of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S.

So as rainfall and storm surges intensify, the devastation caused by hurricanes is expected to grow, and people and communities need to prepare.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media