Milky white and gray rain started falling on parts of the western U.S., and experts are not exactly sure why, but they have a primary suspect for the soot filled rain: a Russian volcano.
On Friday, the National Weather Service began reporting that thick milky rain was covering car windshields and dirtying peoples’ clothing.
According to ABC News, at least a dozen towns in the Northwest confirmed the presence of milky rain. Muddy rain, a brown-tinted precipitation, is common in the summer months, but given the time of year and white color of the current rainwater, the storm caused some concern.
— NWS Spokane (@NWSSpokane) February 6, 2015
Numerous theories have been proposed to explain the mystery, but Washington State’s Walla Walla County Emergency officials report that one seems more likely than the rest.
“We have received reports of ‘white stuff’ on vehicles. The ash is more than likely from Volcano Shiveluch in Kamchatka Krai, Russia, which spewed an ash plume to about the 22,000-foot level in late January. It has been deposited in a wide spread area, including Washington and Oregon.”
Shiveluch is part of the Ring of Fire, a string of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean. Internationally, its eruption was largely unnoticed since the Kamchatka Krai is sparsely populated.
Still, scientists have not confirmed the Shiveluch theory, which the Walla Walla County Emergency Office clarified in an updated post.
“While it was posted that the substance is likely ash is from Volcano Shiveluch, they are a number of volcanoes that are currently active. The source of the material has not been scientifically confirmed.”
According to CNN, the distance between the Russian volcano and the Oregon and Washington area is impressive, about 4,000 miles. Another volcano in Mexico, a mere 2,000 miles away, might also be the culprit in creating the milky rain as CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam explained.
“The strong southerly flow from the jet stream could have brought it from an active volcano in southwest Colima, Mexico. But if we go farther west towards eastern Russia, there’s another active volcano there.”
That volcano is near Guadalajara, and erupted Wednesday.
The mystery of the milky rain won’t be solved until scientists finish chemical studies of the rainfall. In the meantime, residents will have to put up with the ashy soot leftover from their strange new weather phenomenon.
[Image Credit: NASA/JSC]