weather, weather safety/preparedness

Ground fog! (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Dense fog advisories (Fig. 1) as well as the fog they describe (Fig. 2), covered southwest Florida early this Friday morning (Jan. 6, 2017). Some places had 0-0 visibility (that is, zero feet both horizontally and vertically); other places had visibilities of several miles horizontally and several hundreds of feet vertically (Fig. 3). Visibility is defined as how far one can see cloud bases (vertically) or known ground-based objects (horizontally).


It is the variation in fog thickness horizontally (and associated visibility) that came to the forefront this morning as I walked my dog, Pepper, around our southwest Florida neighborhood.


First, looking up my street, visibility was about a half mile, the measured length of my street (Fig. 4). As soon as Pepper and I walked onto the golf course, fog density increased and visibility decreased (Fig. 5). As we approached the location of my COCORAHS (Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network) rain gage, which is adjacent to a large pond, the fog density increased further and visibility tumbled down to a few hundred feet (Fig. 6). All images were taken within 10 minutes of one another.

These three scenarios are described in the table below:

Location Fog density Visibility
Street light ½ mile
Golf course dense ~ ¼ mile
Near pond very dense few hundred feet

For the street, warmer air temperatures resulted in less dense fog. Over the golf course, temperatures were slightly cooler, allowing for somewhat dense fog to develop. In the pond area, cooler air temperatures and higher atmospheric moisture contributed to the densest fog.

Note that these conditions contribute to the formation of fog. But, local winds, drainage winds, and other factors can allow fog areas to move. Not surprisingly, this can result in highly variable fog density along roadways. Common sense dictates that motorists of all types of vehicles (cars, buses, trucks) drive more slowly and pay even greater than average attention to potentially rapidly changing visibility.

While the dense fog has lifted already, it will be back again, especially during the upcoming winter months.

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© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 1/6/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.