Thanks to today’s subject, I learned a new word–brumous. Brumous is a synonym for foggy. I have a photo that I took on Whidbey Island, and I noticed that every time I came near it I would pause and look. That’s it just above. It always got me to thinking of the weather phenomenon known as fog.
What is fog? It’s a mist that occurs when tiny drops of water or ice crystals are in the air near the Earth’s surface. Fog is like a low flying cloud. It tends to form more commonly in late autumn and early spring and hangs around bodies of water, in valleys, or around mountains. My favorite description of fog is from the National Geographic that once said fog is “a cloud that touches the ground”. I really like that. The only difference between fog and a cloud is that fog is near the Earth.
I have seen a lot of fog but have been in thick fog that was hazardous only a couple of times in my life. One time was many years ago as Ruth & I were taking her mother to visit her parents. Ruth’s grandparents lived in Summersville, MO. It was about a 4 hour trip from St. Louis, and the 3 of us were in thick and scary fog the entire time. We barely made it. We have seen fog during travel in places like Canada and Latvia, but Ruth & I had to get used to fairly consistent morning fog only after moving to the West Coast. Severe fog can really be a navigation hazard as it was that evening in Missouri. It’s especially difficult for drivers and boat operators to function during brumous conditions. The only other times I recall being frightened by heavy fog was at sea or when I had to drive over a mountain pass to an accommodation on the other side of a high mountain.
Fog can develop over land or sea. It hovers over creeks and in valleys. It occurs at 100% humidity a lot because of the added moisture in the air. However, it can form in lower humidities. Missouri is a humid place to be but the West Coast is not. That’s why I had to get used to morning fog in Washington State. Luckily, fog evaporates after sunrise, so in places like San Diego and Camas fog usually goes away by noon.
The origin of the word fog is a mystery. Word experts say that it came from Scandinavia, probably Denmark, but its exact source remains obscure. I know that Lewis and Clark abandoned Cape Disappointment in favor of Fort Clatsop due to it. They made their way across the Columbia River as winter advanced and temperatures were falling because of the fog that made boat use far more difficult. Fog can also affect breathing, so that many have been part of the reason why they moved to the other side of the Columbia.