Industrial power plants produced snow in Indiana, Kansas and the Cleveland metro area Tuesday as a blast of cold air engulfed the Midwest. Heat and steam from industries near downtown Cleveland enhanced a localized snowband, which satellite and radar imagery showed extending southeastward, steered by northwesterly winds.
#Weather #Nerd Moment! Seeing a very localized enhancement of a band of #snow from industries near downtown #Cleveland. The heat and steam from near downtown #CLE is causing localized snow southeastward towards Summit County. Seen from satellite and radar. #OHwx #PAwx #NWS #CLEwx pic.twitter.com/C1Ojwienqq
— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) December 4, 2018
Dubbed the “downtown-Cleveland-enhanced” or “Cleveland-effect” snowband by the local National Weather Servive office, it was seen lowering visibility on some highways in the metro area. A few places picked up minor accumulations of snow.
Steam rising from the industrial plants sent warm, moist air into the colder air in the clouds, allowing the snow crystals to form.
A look at some of the Ohio DOT cams near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Boston Heights area showing that localized #Cleveland #Effect #Snow band as of midday. Could see some accumulations with that band. https://t.co/FkLxAcZOJI #OHwx #PAwx #Ohio #ThisIsCLE #CLEwx #NWS pic.twitter.com/BQ6OG3neFu
— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) December 4, 2018
This is a similar process to how lake-effect snow develops: a warm moisture source rises, and that rising air then cools and condenses into clouds that can generate snowflakes under the right conditions.
Parts of northeastern Indiana, including Fort Wayne, also experienced industrial power plant-induced snow Tuesday. The NWS in northern Indiana issued a series of special weather statements warning residents of “a band of industrial plant-induced heavy snow.”
One of the statements noted the snowband had produced periodic heavy snow and visibility as low as a half-mile along U.S. Highway 30 between Fort Wayne and Columbia City, Indiana. An observer near Arcola, Indiana, measured 1.5 inches from this industrial power plant-induced snow.
Northwest of Topeka, Kansas, a coal power plant produced snow Tuesday. The steam released from the plant near St. Marys, Kansas, resulted in flurries and light snow across Shawnee County, Kansas, including the city of Topeka.
Cold temperatures combined with steam being released from a coal power plant north of St. Mary’s, KS continues to result in light snow & flurries across .@ShawneeCounty & .@cityoftopeka! #kswx pic.twitter.com/oxa9j2QOhr
— NWS Topeka (@NWSTopeka) December 4, 2018
Industrial plants also produced snow in Minnesota and Nebraska Monday into Tuesday. The most persistent industrial plant snow on Monday fell in eastern Nebraska, where it even accumulated in some spots. The plume of snow could be seen extending southward from the industrial plants located near Norfolk, Nebraska, in this radar image from Monday.
Steam exhaust from those plants continued to produce snow and freezing drizzle Tuesday morning, with winds steering the plume toward Omaha, according to the NWS. A winter weather advisory was even issued by the NWS for Tuesday morning due to the possibility of slick travel conditions in eastern Nebraska and adjacent parts of southwestern Iowa.
Check this out. Here is a loop of the snow induced from the plants in Norfolk. This loop starts yesterday at 7am and goes through today at 7am. Watch as the snow finally blows off toward the east around 4am this morning. #newx #iawx pic.twitter.com/u1bxieigIJ
— NWS Omaha (@NWSOmaha) December 4, 2018
An emergency manager in Madison County, Nebraska, said the plume was producing large snowflakes Monday. Up to 2 inches of accumulation was reported near Leigh, Nebraska, which is about a 30-mile drive southeast of where the plants are located near Norfolk.
Minnesota also had light snow associated with an industrial plant on Monday.
Satellite imagery showed snowfall triggered by a refinery southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. A weather observation station southeast of the Twin Cities in Stanton reported light snow for an hour Monday afternoon, according to the NWS.
Man-made structures can also create weather! The exhaust plume from a refinery on the southeast side of the Twin Cities created snow, which fell downstream. Stanton Airport (KSYN) reported light snow and reduced visibility from 1:15-2:15pm. #mnwx pic.twitter.com/J9lxAz0xQ7
— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) December 3, 2018
Although it’s not a common sight, industrial plants fueling snowfall does happen from time to time.
We documented another case of steam from a mine causing snow to develop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last December.
Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Nebraska and Minnesota industrial plants have created SNOW! And that is totally rare… crazy!