Video: It was so cold Thursday morning, the Mississippi is smoking!

WCCO's Jordana Green shares an amazing video of the river Thursday morning

Paul and Jordana
February 13, 2020 - 9:33 am
River Smoke

(Entercom / Jordana Green)


How cold is it?  In the video below, it actually looks warm.  But in a video taken by our Jordana Green of the Mississippi River Thursday morning, the bitter cold is making the river "smoke".  

With wind chills of around -30 Thursday morning, it is definitely cold enough to freeze water, but the river is still mostly free of ice thanks to the motion of the current.  

Why does this smoking happen? 

Even in extremely cold weather, liquid water can't be colder than the freezing point — about 32 degrees Fahrenheit — so the surface of the river is much warmer than the air above it.

A lot of water evaporates from the warmer river into the colder dry air above. As soon as this invisible gas rises even just a little bit above the relatively warm water, it hits air that is much colder and can't hold much vapor, so the vapor condenses into microscopic droplets of liquid water in the air.

Some people call the wispy clouds caused by condensation just above it "sea smoke."  It's much more common in oceans or lakes, but we're seeing it in the Twin Cities during this cold snap.  

RELATED: Bone-Chilling Cold Has Arrived. 

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