Nuclear Power Plant Causes Snowfall in Southwest Pennsylvania

First Posted: Jan 25, 2013 05:44 AM EST

Locals of southwest Pennsylvania have witnessed an incident of manmade snowfall. The snowfall that took place on parts of the Allegheny and Beaver counties Tuesday night was not a natural process; it originated from the cooling towers at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, reports wpxi.  

This is a perfect instance that reveals how the environment alters due to manmade activities. The band of snow generated by the Nuclear Power Plant has created a lot of buzz on social networking sites. The U.S. National Weather Service states that up to an inch of snowfall was received due to the steam billowing from the stacks.

It was just not the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station that had triggered such an uncommon snowfall, but also the Bruce Mansfield Station, a coal burning power plant that is situated close to a power plant. According to The Washington Post, the cold Arctic air coming in from the northwest interacted with the hot steam that was produced from both the plants, which resulted in condensation, cloud formation and precipitation.

"The snow that fell yesterday is not common, but when the weather ingredients are favorable, it can form," expert senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno was quoted as saying in Live Science. "That's what happened yesterday. It's a unique situation, but not rare."

According to Fred McMullen, a National Weather Service meteorologist, such events occur every three to five years. It is a phenomenon caused by concentrated moisture and low temperature.

A radar image provided by the NWS in the Moon showed a swath of snow extended eastward from the power plant.

"Essentially it's a micro-scale of what a lake effect snow event is warm, moist air moving over a cool surface cooling the air and causing it to lose the moisture in the clouds. In this case it came down as snow," Hendricks was quoted as saying in wpxi.

The snowflakes, which were large and fluffy, were not radioactive and pose no threat to humans.

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics