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Name: Emma
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: CO
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2012


Question:
What is the temperature range inside the Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs, CO? Does precipitation occur inside this or any other cave? If so, how does precipitation occur and when?



Replies:
Hi Emma,

There is not much variation in the internal temperature, 54 F, of the cave. 54 F is the average temperature of that region near Pike’s Peak of Colorado. The humidity does not change much either. The stable air temperature and humidity almost forbids any precipitation.

Precipitation requires fairly dramatic variances in air temperatures and moisture content. It is highly unlikely that appreciable precipitation exists in a stable cave environment.

The humidity being so high may cause surfaces to possess a sheen and a slightly misty air environs. Mineral laden water filters through the Earth’s crust to cause stalactite and stalagmite formation through very slow dripping.

You probably felt the humidity and if you waited long enough, you may have seen a drip during your visit there.

Happy spelunking!

Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D. Milford, NH


Emma,

Apparently the temperature range in the cave is very small, not deviating from the mid 50's F. Most likely this is true because there is only one cave opening or any other openings are tiny. Therefore there is little air movement from outside to inside the cave. With a lack of significant circulation of air through the cave, the temperature hardly varies with the seasons, unlike many other caves.

David R. Cook Meteorologist Climate Research Section Environmental Science Division Argonne National Laboratory



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