Large vortex tube on power plant steam plume

Dan Robinson

I was driving through town this evening at sunset and looked west at the steam exhaust plume from the John Amos Power Plant located about 20 miles to the west. As it normally is in cold weather, the plume was very large and sent out a long 'tail cloud' to the south as fast northwesterly winds aloft caught the top of it.

When I first saw it, connecting the area just below the 'tail cloud' and the south side of the plume was a large, smooth, curved tube that persisted for a good two minutes. It was well separated from the plume and extended outward a good distance, looking like a huge jug handle. By the time I could pull over in rush hour traffic and get the camera on it, it had dissipated. The sun set a few minutes later, ending visibility.

Tomorrow morning I'm going down there to set up for an hour or so to see if it happens again. Definately cool.
I have witnessed something similar in association with the nuclear power plant here in Palo, Iowa (near Cedar Rapids). I recall that temperatures were perhaps in the 50’s or 60’s with high humidity as showers and light rain were in the area. When I first noticed it, I was certain it was some sort of “cold air funnelâ€￾ as it appeared to be pendant from a cumulus cloud having a base that I estimated to be perhaps 3000ft. As it turns out, the “cloudâ€￾ was from the moisture from the cooling tower, which happened to condense at that level. This “tubeâ€￾, extending to the ground, persisted for at least ten minutes, and looked just like the real thing.

- bill
Tomorrow morning I'm going down there to set up for an hour or so to see if it happens again. Definately cool.

Just hope nobody thinks you are a terroist suspect.

I was taking some night photos of the local coke ( as in coal ) ovens about a year ago when I noticed I was been none to discreetly watched by security in car.





I have a bit of video of these guys. I actually "studied" them while I was supposed to be working. I've got the conditions they form in down a bit. I wasn't supposed to take a camera on site, but oh well. I shot the video from the parking lot very near the big stack. Some days it'll form them one after another while other days it will flat out refuse to happen(I'm pretty sure I know why). Some days it'll form huge ones that will sometimes come close to the ground. There were a few times I was working on the roof very near the big stack and some very amazing vorticies would form. Some were very fat and so smooth.

Other things would happen at the site with the intake fans. Looooong invisible 'tornadoes' would form and touch the ground. The opening to the things are about 8 feet off the ground and lay horizontaly. The one time I was standing in water and it looked like a bug was flipping around in this slop(it was pretty nasty around there). Well it'd fling around in the water till it got to the edge where it was like a shore and it would appear to dissapear into the pavement(this 'water' was black so it really looked like a bug covered in crap). Well it freaked me out when it would seem to vanish into the concrete when it "came out". One girl at the site literally got scared she was going to lose her mind when she watched(this was quite funny). With all this equipment around it was very loud and there was a lot of vibration. I thought maybe it was just some sort of vibration reflection. Then I went back to really thinking it was a damn bug because it looked exactly like a bug would covered in slop. The problem with it seeming to vanish remaind though. FINALLY I figured out it was a vortex arcing down from that big intake. That vortex had to be 10-12 feet long forming a good 8 foot off the ground and arcing to the surface. It was interesting that the vortex would always show up first almost directly under the end of the tube. It would then move around and get longer, going away from this location. Then it'd go out of the water on the floor and never come back without it forming directly under the tube again. It seemed odd it would never form and first spin up the water out a bit, but always do it right below the tube to start.
Looks like the Amos power plant just fired up a little pulse downburst cell as outflow moved through. I searched amos power plant on here to see if anyone else caught it. Does this happen often or are power plant fire-ups fairly common because this is certainly the first I have seen...assuming it was in fact the cause given the lack of any other.