Ali Tokay, a research scientist from the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., compared the rain measurements collected in tropical storms and hurricanes during the past three Atlantic hurricane seasons with measurements after these storms transitioned to being extra-tropical. Tokay's study appeared in the May issue of the American Meteorological Society's Monthly Weather Review.
When a tropical cyclone - the generic name for tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes - merges with a mid-latitude frontal storm system, measurable changes to the raindrop size and abundance occur as the system transitions to become extra-tropical. Extra-tropical cyclones also form outside the tropics without being part of a tropical system, and tend to form over land rather than over the open ocean. This category of storm can produce anything from a cloudy sky to a thunderstorm as it develops between weather fronts, the boundaries separating air masses of different densities.
…He concluded that tropical cyclones that form over water tend to rain harder and have a greater amount of smaller drops before they transition to being extra-tropical with raindrops of larger size and mass.
Palm tree seen through raindrops, shot by Linda F. Palmer, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2