Mark Johnson, chief meteorologist for Cleveland’s News Channel 5, posted this today:
“… have you ever heard of nuclear power plant snow? Well it happened recently in western Pennsylvania. The Doppler radar from the nearby National Weather Service Office in Pittsburgh captured the scene.
During the early morning hours of Jan. 22, the cooling towers from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant, near Pa., produced a narrow band of snow that traveled east from the stacks across the greater Pittsburgh area. Conditions were just right: Bitterly cold air, relatively quiet winds and lots of warm water vapor from those cooling towers.”
What lifts the story from meteorological oddity soft news is the next paragraph:
“Steam from each of Beaver Valley’s two cooling towers evaporates into the environment at a rate of about 10,000 gallons per minute.” said John Ostrowski, Beaver Valley Systems Engineer.
Here in Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority is struggling with a severe water shortage and is faced with the prospect of having to curtail water use by Texas rice farmers. At the same time, the South Texas Nuclear Project not only has two cooling towers where I can only assume that water is evaporating at a comparable rate to Beaver Valley (Although South Texas’ evaporation rate might be significantly higher, considering that the average air temperature tends to be a little higher than it is in Pennsylvania.) And let’s not forget that STNP still has an active application in the works to build two more units at the site.