Yellowstone's Old Faithful Geyser Is Currently Erupting Snow


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Some of it is turning intstantly into snow, while most of it billows up higher than usual in sub-zero temperatures. YellowstoneNPS via YouTube

What happens when a geyser erupts into air temperatures of -17.8°C (0°F)? Well, you get instant snow, of course!

As reported by ABC News, Old Faithful, that famous angry water spout in Yellowstone National Park, was busy doing its usual thing. Every 44 to 125 minutes, it builds up enough pressure to fire superheated water into the air. Just 22 meters (72 feet) beneath the surface, the water is about 118°C (244°F), and it often retains this heat as it explodes out onto the surface.


However, when you shoot this broiling fluid up into the sky, its water droplets will freeze quite suddenly and snow will emerge like magic. Unfortunately, much of the water remains too hot to freeze that quickly, but because the temperature of the geyser is so much greater than the surrounding frigid air, it is far less dense than usual – which means the geyser billows out and drifts upwards far higher than usual.

Instant snow and a billowing plume at Old Faithful. YellowstoneNPS via YouTube

By the way, if anyone out in Wyoming right now can build a snowman out of that supervolcano-powered geyser snow, then they are officially awesome.


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