This year’s Fog in August report is a little hazy, you could literally say. For the past few years, the confounding winter factor has been the temperature. We have had plenty of moisture, but warmer than usual temperatures. We ended up with more rain than snow storms. Draw your own conclusions.
This year, some days we had difficulty differentiating between clear days, light fog, and haze. Haze? You ask. While the concept of Fog in August is that the local phenomenon of fog forecasts the number of snow storms that will occur.
But, local weather is regional weather. For our mid-Atlantic/Appalachian Mountian region, we need to follow what is happening in North Africa and the Pacific Northwest. Huh?
Our weather has two primary sources. The heat coming off North Africa flows out to the mid-Atlantic to Caribbean region. The hot air absorbs moisture, which forms tropical storms and hurricanes. These move into the Gulf region, turning north into the Mississippi Valley or up the eastern coast of North America.
From the Pacific Northwest, the Jet Stream travels west to east across the continent. Look at the temperatures in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington states. That will come our way in a few days. Has anyone not noticed the record breaking temperatures in the Pacific Northwest this summer?
Thus, the moist mid-Atlantic/Caribbean air mixes with the Pacific Northwest temperatures, and we get fog.
But, what has been happening in the Pacific Northwest this year. Hell certainly is not freezing over. No, its burning up and sending high altitude smoke our way.
Having grown up in central California, I remember late summer sun rises. If we could not see the Hamilton Mountains to the east, and the sun rose as a big orange ball, we new that something was burning. Though I do not recall the fires being as large and numerous as now, I do remember fires in the Coast Ranges (near Santa Cruz), the Hamilton Range between the Santa Clara Valley and Central Valley, or somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountians. That orange ball of sun indicated fire, which indicated smoke, which filtered into haze.
In July, I recall one day, that our mountains disappeared around the Shenandoah Valley. I thought that fog was early, though it seemed awfully dry that day. By evening, I watched the ball of orange descend over Shenandoah Mountain.
I said to the Mrs. “There’s fire somewhere. I bet that is smoke from the west coast fires.” Two days later, the news reported that the smoke from the fires 3000 miles away had ascended high enough into the atmosphere for the Jet Stream to send it to the east coast.
Various weather systems have cleared out the smoke on some days, but this year’s Fog in August is somewhat clouded, we might say, by Haze in August. Thus, I have added an additional category to my tally. I could not say how this plays out with snow storms, but I suspect that if the fires continue into winter, it will not go well.
Clear Days: 4
Hazy Days: 6
Light Fog: 7
Moderate Fog: 4
Dense Fog: 6
I’ll start my tally of winter weather in December and report back to you in April. Meanwhile, please don’t think that coming to the country means that having a bon-fire is a good idea, or if you do please clear the ground for 12 feet around the fire pit, and put out the coals before climbing into your bed or sleeping bag.