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Old Faithful has a few tricks up its sleeve.

January 05, 2017

Instead of its usual eruption of hot water, Yellowstone’s famous geyser has been shooting snow straight up into the sky. Although, it’s not so much a trick as an effect of science.

While it may look like Old Faithful is reaching into its depths and shooting out mounds of snow, the eruption’s temperature is the same as it is during the summer months—which can get up to 204°F.

When you throw super hot water into really cold air, it instantly forms a cloud—and then that cloud starts snowing. Because temperatures at Yellowstone have been very cold lately—dipped down to 0°F—conditions are prime for Old Faithful to make snow clouds.

In freezing temperatures, hot water freezes faster than cold water. Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why this happens, the ruling theory is that “hot water evaporates more quickly, losing mass and therefore needing to lose less heat in order to freeze,” according to Science Alert.

No matter the science behind it, snow being shot up to 180 feet in the air is a stunning sight.

Travelers who want to see Old Faithful shooting out snow are not too pressed for time. Yellowstone’s public relations told the Los Angeles Times that the snow show happens every winter during every eruption.

For those who can’t book a trip to Yellowstone, the national park has a live webcam set up to view the action. The geyser erupts, on average, every 74 minutes although the time between eruptions can last from 60 to 110 minutes.

 

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