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Could lakes influence atmospheric conditions like precipitation and humidity?

Dear Tom,

I live within 30 miles of three cooling lakes—Braidwood, Dresden and LaSalle—from nuclear generating stations. Could these lakes influence atmospheric conditions like precipitation and humidity in my area?

Eric Small,
Joliet

Dear Eric,
All lakes influence the weather, but the influences depend on the given weather situation and the size of the lake. Huge lakes (Lake Michigan, for example) always affect the weather over, near and sometimes hundreds of miles from them. Smaller lakes (even ponds and rivers) affect the air that moves over them, adding moisture (or removing it, in some cases) and causing other (usually minute) changes. In your case, the cooling reservoirs will usually add moisture to the air, occasionally inducing ground fog in very light wind situations. Other effects may include dense fog and rime icing in winter.