Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Saturday, June 14, 2008 - 11:50PM

Power plant exhaust-initiated convection event

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The John Amos power plant's cooling tower exhaust plume was triggering convection this evening, resulting in a continuous, stationary rain shower around the Poca/Cross Lanes area. I've documented this phenomenon previously (in July of 2002) and put together a write-up on it, but I haven't seen such a well-defined example of this since then - until today. I set up in Nitro next to I-64 and filmed a 35-minute HD timelapse of the cell at sunset. I also did a few panoramas of this impressive scene. At times the shower resembled an LP supercell, with a rounded, smooth striated base and periodic inflow tails. Unlike the July 2002 event, I didn't see lightning or a heavy precip shaft this time. Deep-layer directional shear was present, with southwesterly flow aloft, westerly/northwesterly flow at the mid-levels and south-southwesterly flow at the surface. I first noticed the cell at around 8:00PM, and it was still going when I left it at 10:00PM. Given the low-level visual structure of this cell, it would have been interesting to see what it would have done with a little more ambient instability.

HD EXPEDITION VIDEO: Timelapse of triggered convection

RELATED ARTICLE: Artificially triggered convection

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Moisture, instability, lift & shear... that's all it takes. This time, some of those were provided by steam rising from the cooling towers. Don't think I'd call it a "smoking gun" (what with that term's connotation), but it is a good example of weather modification (if unintentional this time).
- Posted by A Meteorologist

Dan, as usual these are great images. Very cool. You should definitely shop those around for Weatherwise or maybe a science or environmental textbook.
- Posted by Bill Hark from Richmond VA

My parents are from Poca, and my grandparents lived right there across the river from the power plant in Glass Addition. All through my childhood, I always loved being there and seeing the stacks; we called them 'The Big Hots'. In more recent years I have become a serious weather junkie, and I monitor storm activity all around the country. Needless to say, this story (and this entire site) are immensely fascinating to me. Next time any of you Kanawha Valley residents go by the Nitro exit there on 64, say 'hi' to the Big Hots for me. I'm glad I found this site, and I'll be a regular visitor in the future. Keep up the great work.
- Posted by David Rowh from Salisbury, NC

Look's like there's more on the way for you this evening - 16th June. Now how's that for a novice living in the UK :)
- Posted by Mick from United Kingdom

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