What is Freezing Fog?

landscape photo of forest

Fog gets in the way of visibility posing dangers on the road. But conditions can be even more hazardous if fog freezes. Then, in addition to not being able to see, drivers are faced with slippery conditions.

This article will explain what freezing fog is and give you tips to stay safe while you are on icy roads.

What is Fog?

Fog is a cloud that hovers close to the ground. It consists of tiny drops of water. It forms when the air is moist or when the air cools and becomes saturated.

Extremely dense fog can reduce visibility to a quarter mile or less. When this occurs, it increases the risk of accidents, and it can lead to airline delays.

What is Freezing Fog?

Freezing fog occurs when temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens, not only is there reduced visibility, but the water droplets in the fog freeze producing slippery conditions. The droplets can get onto roadways and cause icy spots that make accidents more likely.

When fog freezes, it causes hazards for pedestrians. It can ice over sidewalks making it dangerous for people to walk. It can also lead to flight delays and cancellations.

It is not unusual for freezing fog to last for several hours or even days. When the fog is present for long periods of time, it will accumulate on trees, bushes, outdoor fixtures, powerlines, and other surfaces.

The weight of the ice can damage the trees and cause them to fall. It can also bring down power lines and cause outages.

Long lasting freezing fog commonly occurs in western U.S. valleys. The low elevation causes the moist air to get trapped making for dangerous high-pressure conditions.

In some cases, freezing fog can form light pillars, an optical phenomenon that occurs when light is refracted by ice crystals. Light pillars are lovely to look at making for a silver lining in an otherwise unpleasant environment.

Tips for Driving in Freezing Fog

If you are experiencing freezing fog in your area, the best advice may be to stay off the road. But if you do have to drive, give yourself extra time to warm up the car and to clear your windows so you are able to see out of them. If you get into an accident because of ice on your windows, you will be responsible for damages.

You will also need to give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. You will need to drive slowly to avoid slipping and collisions so plan accordingly.

During the day, the sun may come out and burn through the ice and melt the fog. Don’t take this as a sign that all is well. When you go from sun to fog, roads can be especially icy.

Freezing fog is extremely dangerous but knowledge may be your best defense. Now that you know what to look out for and how to handle icy conditions, you are in the best shape possible for avoiding accidents. What precautions do you take when freezing fog is present?