Community Issues

Foggy Morning in the 'Burg; At Least We're Not Newfoundland

How does fog form? Why do we get so much in Pittsburgh? Who gets the most? We've got some answers from the experts.


Why Newfoundland? Turns out, The Grand Banks, Newfoundland, is the spot most experts say is the foggiest place in the world

They get about 200 days of fog a year, caused by the fact that, according to World Atlas, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast there are very shallow. When cold ocean currents from the north mix in with the warmer local waters, you get fog.

In our case, my friend, KDKA-TV meteorologist Ron Smiley says our fog this morning in PIttsburgh was caused by weather phenomenon called advection . This occurs when moist, warmer air moves over cooler ground. This often happens when a warm front moves over an area with snow on the ground, "with the warm air cooled to the dew point forcing moisture to be released," says Ron. He says the atmosphere was ripe for advection fog even without the remnants of our last snowfall.

"This fog would have occurred with or without snow on ground." Ron Smiley, Meteorologist, KDKA-TV

Advection can be pretty pervasive, blurring flat areas and valleys. The photo above looks across the parking lot from the Sparkt offices in Scott Township. On a normal day you should be able to see the Beth El Congregation synagogue in the distance. The photo at the top of this story shows the Strip District/upper downtown from the Northside. Normally you'd be able to see most of the buildings in the Strip from this vantage point, but here you can only clearly see the tip of the Convention Center.

However, fog does tend to collect more heavily in valleys, as you can see (below) on McKnight Road in Ross. From this vantage point at the bottom of the McKnight near the West View clover leaf, you should be able to see all the way to the top of the hill. But the fog in the small valley surrounding the road obscures it. The National Weather Service says valley fog is caused when, overnight, warmer air in the valleys is released into the atmosphere and replaced by cooler, denser air flowing down from the hilltops. Fog forms in this cooler valley air if there's enough moisture.

Did you know, it's a myth that the sun "burns off" the fog like the shrouded sun over one foggy neighborhood in Green Tree (below)? The " weather guys " at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say it's simply the air warming up, causing fog droplets to evaporate.

Enjoy the rest of your fog-free day. We hope you learned something to make you sound smart when you talk about it with friends and family! Here's a piece of fog trivia to further impress your friends: The Grand Banks (remember, the foggiest place in the world) are close to where the Titanic sunk. So maybe the ships of the Gateway Clipper fleet better avoid navigating the three rivers 'till this fog is gone? Might crash into the Point 'n'at.

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