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A Cold Weather Science Experiment

Posted at 10:57 AM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 10:57:47-05

There are number of cold weather science experiments, but one of my favorites involves boiling water and outside temperatures near 0°.

Meteorologist Jill Szwed is showing us a cold weather science experiment!

Posted by LEX 18 on Thursday, January 31, 2019

Here’s the science. The hot water is shocked by the very cold air. The water evaporates then condenses very quickly and forms a cloud. If you attempt this experiment when temperatures are cold enough, on the order of -20°F to -40°F, you may even form a little snow along with the cloud.

If you want to try this at home, be extremely careful. Don’t throw the pipping hot water into the wind. You can still get scalded. Kids, best to try this under your parent’s supervision. Also I’ve found the most success with this experiment when temperatures are below 10°F.

To say it is brutal out there this morning is an understatement! Lake Michigan, as viewed here from Chicago’s North Side Edgewater neighborhood has taken on the appearance of a boiling cauldron as sub-20-degree below zero air makes contact with water which sits just above the freezing level. The temp at 8am at 8am us 23-below at O’Hare—record smashing reading (it has smashed a 53-year o old record set back in 1966) and the wind chill is 52-below. At Midway, it’s 21-below and the wind chill is 47 below. The coldest readings on the latest National Weather Service observation Chicago list at 8am are 24-below at West Chicago and Aurora with barbarically cold wind chills of 54 and 55-below respectively. A little perspective on how rare this is. There are 54,020 official temp readings on file for Chicago in the 148 years since 1870 and today’s 23-below at O’Hare is only the 17th temp which has dipped under 20-below! Winds are gusting to 32 mph which is creating serious blowing and drifting in open rural areas. Be exceedingly careful in this bitter cold! This is dangerous!!

Posted by Tom Skilling on Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Have you seen this? Similar process just on a much bigger scale. Tom Skilling, the legendary Chief Meteorologist at WGN is Chicago, shared this video during the extreme cold Wednesday. Lake Michigan was seemingly transformed into a boiling cauldron. “Steam” or “sea fog” developed as the sub-20-degree below zero air came in contact with the water, which was sitting just above the freezing mark. Really cool stuff to look at from the safety of inside.

Here are some other fun cold weather science experiments. Try freezing bubbles or turning a banana into a hammer.