Fog, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Fog, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

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PHOTO submitted to khq.com by Suzi in Coeur d'Alene PHOTO submitted to khq.com by Suzi in Coeur d'Alene
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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Fog... It is the weather word of the week. A nuisance for some, while for others it is bit mysterious. Fog is one of those things that you can compare it to several different things. You've got "split pea soup" and "the mist" or fog being described as "a smoke screen" to even the plain 'ole "surface clouds". Whatever you like to call it, it is going to be thick this week and fairly consistent and about the only thing in the weather world that is constant. Fog though has so much significance and many of us may not even know where it comes from. So lets have a little fun with this by looking at some of the historical significance of fog.

First off we have to start with Foghat, while they have nothing to do with fog itself, many of you may have been put in a fog while listening to this British rock groups music from the 70's. Now according to their website, the bands name was derived from one of the band members, claiming that they made up the word during a childhood game with his brother. But you take a closer look at one of their songs and clearly they enjoyed weather and had a knack for fog as well. And how could you not, with a song title like, "Slow Ride" they are clearly trying to tell people to slow down while driving in the fog.

We then travel back even further to 1776 to see that fog played a very pivotal role in our own counties existence. In the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Long Island was taking place. George Washington was surrounded with only the banks of the river to his back. While the British Army started building trenches and advancing on the American troops, George Washington started retreating his troops across the river overnight, just as a thick fog started to envelope the region. The British became suspicious and sent out patrols, but when when they found no sign of the Americans they began to move in. Just as the last person, Washington himself, stepped onto the last boat, the British invaded the area where Washington's troops had been. The fog saved 9,000 troops that night.

Fog though is quite common and during the right time of year, it is quite abundant. The foggiest places in the world are located in Newfoundland near Grand Banks as well as Argentia with over 200 foggy days per year. Even California's Point Reyes, sees similar numbers with 200 days per year of fog. 

For Spokane though, while we might be stuck in it this week, however we only average about 48 days per year with less than a quarter mile of visibility. This is still quite a bit averaging more than a month of fog a year!

So we have talked about some of the historical significance of fog and know about how many days of it we see annually but where does fog come from and did you know there are different types of fog?

That's right, there are several types of fog and 2 of them we will discuss briefly. 

First is RADIATION FOG - where at night the rapid cooling of the earth with left over moisture drops the temperature near the surface of the earth. As that happens the temperature reaches the dewpoint and causes humidity to hit 100%. When it hits that mark, condensation forms and fog begins to build.

Second is ADVECTION FOG - This is the kind of fog that forms over the sea that you would see in San Francisco. Advection fog forms due to warm air moving over a cold surface (ocean) and condensation is able to take place. They are similar but happen in two different areas.

Here in Spokane, radiation fog is the most common and is what will be happening this week. We have a large area of high pressure pushing down and trapping much of the air at the surface of the earth. As the earth cools at night and with the leftover moisture in the atmosphere from this past weekends snow/rain showers, at night it will cause fog to from and will be thick so make sure to "Slow ride! And take it easy!"

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