‘Mine-effect’ snow makes appearance

This is an image of the National Weather Service-Marquette office’s south-facing webcam that depicts the area of “mine-effect” snowfall to the west, or right, of the steam plume. The unusual snowfall took place Dec. 20. (Photo courtesy of NWS-Marquette)

NEGAUNEE — “Mine-effect snow” recently was featured on The Weather Channel.

Not lake-effect snow. Mine-effect snow.

TWC noted a small blip on Doppler radar revealed an unusual sight the evening of Dec. 20: localized snowfall produced from the Tilden Mine.

The National Weather Service’s Marquette office, located in Negaunee Township, confirmed the occurrence via a recent Facebook post with a photograph, snapped by one of its employees, showing a plume of steam rising from the mine into the cloud layer just above the Earth’s surface.

The iron ore mine is located south of Negaunee and Ishpeming.

The post read: “As very warm air from the steam plume rises to the cloud base, a pocket of large, fluffy snowflakes develop and fall in a narrow plume just downwind of the mine.”

According to TWC’s story, the “mine-effect” snow formed through a similar process as lake-effect snow, where a warm moisture source rises. The rising air then cools and condenses into clouds, which can generate snowflakes under the right conditions.

It also noted the NWS office in Amarillo, Texas, had documented enhanced snowfall associated with industrial plants in the Texas Panhandle Feb. 9-10, 2014.

“It’s quite rare,” said Keith White, a meteorologist and associate forecaster based at the NWS-Marquette office.

He noted conditions have to be right for the phenomenon to occur.

He also said the occurrence presented no danger.

“It’s just water vapor condensing into snow as usual,” White said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal .net.