It's so cold in parts of the United States that a cup of boiling water tossed into the air can crystalize into ice and snow before it hits the ground.
Videos of such strikingly weird phenomena in Minnesota, Vermont, New Jersey, and elsewhere are making the rounds as subzero temperatures, high winds, and snow blasts across the country.
Thanks to a series of weather patterns, including a notorious bomb cyclone, Florida's capital got its first snowfall in three decades Much of New England, meanwhile, is bracing for a snowy hit from the bomb cyclone (also known as bombogenesis). (Related: "U.S. Cold Snap: What Do Bitter Temperatures Do to the Human Body?")
Here's the science behind viral cold-weather videos:
Boiling Water Turns to Snow
"Water is a special substance," says Taneil Uttal, an arctic climatologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), because it can exist as a liquid, a gas and a solid at the same time.
This is known as the triple point, and temperatures need to reach 0.01°C (32.018°F) for it to happen, Uttal explains.
When you boil water, you're adding energy to water in its liquid state. That energy moves the molecules farther away from each other until the water vaporizes into a gaseous state.
"When you throw [boiling water] into the air, the hot water forms into hot droplets," says Uttal.
Because they're so hot, those tiny water
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