It’s so cold in Arizona, boiling water is instantly turning into clouds

It’s so cold in Arizona, boiling water is instantly turning into clouds
Image: Provided by author.
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If you think the unseasonable warmth is amazing on the East Coast, prepare to be astounded at how cold it is in Arizona.

It’s not just “so cold you can see your breath” cold. It’s “so cold you can make clouds with boiling water” cold.

Temperatures were minus-13 in Flagstaff on Wednesday. For the average person, that’s as good a reason as any to stay indoors. For a weather geek, it’s as good a reason as any to go outside. And that’s just what local National Weather Service employees did to try the old turning boiling water into a cloud trick. It’s unclear if this cloud made it into the official observation record.

The reason boiling water turns into a cloud (sidenote: it’s often mistaken as turning into snow but that’s not quite right) has to do with the extreme temperature gradient between the water and the air. When you throw boiling water into the air, it splits into tiny droplets that vaporize quickly. The really cold air can’t hold all that water vapor so the vapor instead condenses around any microscopic particles of dust, salt or whatever else might be floating in the air and voila, you have a cloud.

It has to generally be below zero for this trick to work. Dry weather is also another key ingredient. Given the potential of severe burns, it goes without saying you should probably not try this at home.

This post originally appeared on WX Shift.