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Posted at 09:59 AM ET, 01/23/2013

Nuclear power plant produces snow in southwest Pennsylvania

Need proof that human activities can influence the environment? Consider this Facebook update from the National Weather Service office in Pittsburgh Tuesday evening:

Check out the band of snow being generated by the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant near Shippingport. Up to an inch of snow has fallen as a result of the steam billowing from the stacks.


Doppler radar image shows band of snow developing downstream of the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant (National Weather Service)

How could this happen? It’s rather basic science.

The ultra cold air streaming in from the northwest interacted with the hot steam emitted from the plant resulting in condensation, cloud formation and precipitation.

I’ve never seen this particular phenomenon observed before but it makes physical sense.

Here’s a video which demonstrates it occurring at a much smaller scale:

There is a whole scientific literature that proposes heat produced by cities can enhance rain/precipitation downwind of the urban core. This is an analogous, very localized example of “waste heat” so to speak enhancing, or, in this case, generating precipitation.

By  |  09:59 AM ET, 01/23/2013

Categories:  Latest, Environment, Winter Storms

 
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