Freezing fog fairly common
(ABC 6 News) – While freezing fog looks a little creepy, it is pretty simple. It happens when moisture that is low in the atmosphere combines with colder temperatures.
A few thousand feet in the air, the temperatures are much warmer and the air is more stable, resulting in the fog getting trapped lower to the ground. When there aren’t strong winds or something to mix up the atmosphere, the fog stays put.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Michael Kurz notes why we are seeing this fog so often. “We get a system that passes through, and then we just stay in this stagnant air mass for a time.”
It also causes plenty of impacts. It makes it hard to see while driving, and it can cause slick spots on the road. It’s in rural communities where freezing fog is most troublesome. With fewer buildings or trees around, the fog can persist for longer periods.
As much of a hassle as it is for driving, the fog does make for some nice scenery. What you are seeing on trees and plants is rime ice; there are two types. Kurz explains the difference. “Soft rime ice if the winds are real light and hard rime ice if the winds are a little stronger.”
Soft rime ice is more commonly found on plants with more of a pointy look, whereas hard rime ice is usually found on one side of a tree from the stronger winds.
As for tips on driving: take it a little slower on the roads due to slick spots as well as seeing through the fog itself.
Also, don’t use high beams on the roads. This is because headlights reflect off the super-cooled water droplets that make up the fog, and they can reflect right back toward you. As long as you follow these, you should be able to navigate the elements much easier.