The clouds that could be seen above Chevron Richmond refinery Wednesday morning were actually harmless steam clouds, according to refinery officials.
Chevron Richmond spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie explains:
“Specialized cooling towers recycle hot water so it can be reused at the refinery. During the cooling process some of the hot water evaporates and is visible as steam clouds.”
It is similar to what you might see coming out of a tea kettle, Public Affairs Manager Heather Kulp explained in this Chevron Richmond blog post.
The color of the steam clouds is affected by the weather and temperature, Ritchie added, and during days like today when it is cold with humidity, the clouds appear dark and heavy, similar to rain clouds.
Click on the infographic within this story, which illustrates the different types of steam clouds one might see depending on different temperatures and weather patterns.