Yellowstone's Old Faithful Geyser Erupting Snow Instead Of The Regular Boiling Water

First Posted: Dec 31, 2016 03:10 AM EST

The Yellowstone National Park's geyser, the Old Faithful, is erupting snow instead of spewing regularly a boiling water. This is due to the extremely cold weather in the area.

Old Faithful Geyser is situated in the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the United States. It is part of the Old Faithful Historic District. It steams every 74 minutes on average, and since 2000, it has erupted every 44 to 125 minutes. The boiling water could reach up to 95.6 degrees Celsius (204 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, the steam cloud can get over 177 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and reach 43 meters in height.

A strange thing this month is that the famous geyser is erupting snow. It is reported that the region has a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) just a few days ago.

So, why is it the Old Faithful geyser blasted out snow rather than the regular boiling water? This is due to the extremely cold temperatures that affect the geyser, in which the hot water freezes faster than cold water.

The hot water is instantly forming a cloud as it hits the air outside. Then, the cloud starts to snow. The boiling water condenses fast. This is because it is evaporating into steam and the water vapor quickly stamps together in the air outside and shapes a cloud. The water vapor becomes so heavy and starts to fall back on the ground as snow, according to Science Alert.

Mark Seeley, a meteorologist from the University of Minnesota, explained that when it is cold outside, there is hardly any water vapor present in the air, whereas boiling water emits vapor very readily -- that is why it is steaming. He further explained that when you throw the water up in the air, it breaks into much smaller droplets, so there is, even more, surface for water vapor to come off.

The cold air could hold water vapor molecules very low and has less space for the vapor molecules. Once the boiling water was thrown up, the minus 22 air has more water vapor that it has room for and the vapor precipitates out by clinging to microscopic particles in the air and forms crystals. The formation of snowflakes goes into this process, according to Seeley.

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