Ice FogPosted: January 18, 2012
It has been cold here in North Pole, Alaska. Perhaps that is an understatement. It has been really cold. The last two nights it has been -50 or colder. Thus, we have had our first experience with ice fog. Yes, this is actually something real.
Ice fog is a phenomenon that can occur when it drops below -30. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geological Institute, “Ice fog is what happens when water vapor meets bitter cold air that can’t hold any more water.When water vapor exits a car tailpipe when it’s minus 40, for example, the water vapor temperature drops from about 250 degrees to minus 40 in less than 10 seconds. Water cooled that fast forms tiny ice particles, so small that ten of them could fit side by side on the finger-cutting edge of a piece of paper. Collectively, millions of these particles take form as ice fog, the cotton candy-like clouds that hand over our roads.”
In real life, it looks more like science-fiction. This weekend as Lucas and I drove around looking for new apartments, we experienced the magic/mystery/weirdness of ice fog first hand. You can only see about 50-75 yards in front of the car and headlights seem to appear out of nowhere as two fast moving bright dots. I kept thinking it looked like we were in a Scooby-Doo cartoon. I was waiting for Bigfoot or a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater to burst through the cloud of hazy ice. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. We had about two days of ice fog, then it lifted, back to normal cold weather.
I have to say, of all the Alaskan things we have experienced so far, ice fog might be my least favorite. It makes the world look gray and muffled. What I love about winter here is that it looks so clean and crisp and white. Pretty on pretty. But ice fog masks that and suddenly I just felt cold. Like I was breathing in ice, which ironically, I was. But as I have often said this winter: I am still glad to say that I experienced it.