The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.


The View from a Drawbridge

After several nights of sleep deprivation, my mind is in a fog. But this blog is a cruel taskmistress. It expects me to grind out content regardless of how many cylinders I’m running on. So, in a desperate attempt to come up with a topic without causing too much strain to my brain, I’ve decided to write about fog. But not just any fog.

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest from Florida, I began to experience weather phenomena that I didn’t even realize existed. One such moment of weirdness was when I walked out into a cold and foggy landscape only to discover that the fog was… how do I even describe it? Tactile. As though I could have made it into a snowball with enough patience and effort. It crackled. I could grab it out of mid air and examine it in my hand. Freezing fog doesn’t really leave you feeling wet like other fog does. (That is, until you thaw out.)

Stuff like this never happens in Florida. I began to wonder if I was hallucinating.

It turns out that there is such a thing as freezing fog. According to a quick glance at Wikipedia, that font of all human knowledge, freezing fog can adhere to surfaces and leave a rime. Apparently another term for it is pogonip, but I’ve yet to hear anyone use that word.

It seems to happen most often in deep mountain valleys, but also in inland areas of the Pacific Northwest. Learning this is a relief, because I truly thought I was losing my mind. Nature is so complex. I love it.

Wikipedia also informs me that there are other types of fog. Frozen (as opposed to freezing) fog requires a visit to Alaska when the temperature drops below -31F. (No thank you.) In those cases, the moisture forms ice crystals in midair.

There’s also evaporation or steam fog, ice fog, precipitation or frontal fog, hail fog, upslope or hill fog, valley fog, sea and coastal fog, and something called Garua fog. I had no idea. I always thought fog was fog.

Just when you think you have a handle on all things weather-related, Mother Nature humbles you.

Pogonip at Topaz Lake

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5 thoughts on “Pogonip

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    When the temp gets to -40 or so [that’s the crossing point for C and F systems, BTW], if you are in the city you get ice fog, which is even worse. Civilization-type air pollution does weird things at that temp–maybe it’s closer to -50–anyway, the air smells not too good and gives you a feeling that it doesn’t want to be breathed.
    There’s a reason I live here in the temperates. Here we sometimes get those funny little mist-wraiths that form over the surface of a river or lake, and look almost like white flames from a distance, precisely when one’s camera batteries die. And there was a swamp on the way to where I worked that on fair-weather dawns in early fall would get mist in it, so thick it’d spread across the road, and the bus would seem to plunge into a wall of cotton, and you’d feel it even though the windows were shut. I still miss it. But I’m happy here.
    Will probably do some fog-related research soon.

    1. Let me know what you discover. And you really should blog. You have a talent for verbal imagery!

  2. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    Thanks, but I think I spend enough time in front of a screen already. I so far have recalled being in a desolate place and there was fog even while there was wind, because the wind blew in new fog even as it swept out the old.
    As for the aforementioned swamp, I recall wishing I could just scoop up a big jugfull and surreptitiously turn it loose in the front office at work…and one of my cohorts said “Don’t bother, they are already in a fog.”

  3. Lyn says:

    Am intrigued by the ethereal quality of fog and mist but never considered it from a scientific perspective. Thanks for increasing my appreciation of nature’s mysterious breath. And here’s what brain fog feels like …

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