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5 Foggiest Places in North America

5 Foggiest Places in North America

While there’s nothing initially exciting about fog, there’s no doubt that there is something interesting and mysterious about the way it can change a landscape simply by enveloping it in a cloud. A sunny landscape can be instantly turned into a scene from a scary movie with the addition of one of Mother Nature’s props.  But of course it isn’t sinister at all. It’s simply moisture in the air.

Fog forms when two ground level air masses of different temperatures meet, especially over bodies of water, and condense to form a low-lying cloud. And depending on the micro-climate of that land mass (such as mountains), the fog can get trapped and has a tougher time being burned off by the Sun’s rays. Many parts of North America receive fog at one time or another. But for some areas, it’s an everyday occurrence.

Here’s a list of five places where fog is a way of life:

  1. Grand Banks, Newfoundland. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the foggiest place in the world, no less North America, is this spot off the island of Newfoundland, Canada, where the chilly Labrador current from the north meets up with the much warmer Gulf Stream from the south, creating 206 foggy days per year. When the fog burns off it starts with the inland areas, slowly making its way to the coast, so it takes longer to dissipate. The town of Argentia, once the site of a US Naval Air Station commissioned during World War II, would be fogged in for days.  One serviceman recalls, “Being on base was tough. A fog factory. Yet right in the next town over, it would be sunny.”
  2. Point Reyes, California. Point Reyes has two monikers of notoriety: not only is it known as the windiest place on the Pacific Coast (some clocked at hurricane force levels), but it’s known as the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Thanks to the Pacific Ocean, which contributes by providing the moisture and by its temperature, that contrasts greatly with the air surrounding it. The area gets 200 foggy days per year that can stick around for weeks, especially during the summer months. Visibility is commonly reduced to mere feet.
  3. Cape Disappointment, Washington. With a name like that, you may wonder if the fog had anything to do with why this spot made the list! Located in the extreme southwest corner of Washington State, Cape Disappointment sees nearly three and a half months of thick fog each year, and just like at Point Reyes, the Pacific Ocean has a lot to do with it. Washington is the most overcast state in the Union and sees 165 foggy days a year on average.
  4. 800px-Golden_Fog,_San_Francisco

    The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, enveloped by fog

    San Francisco, California. While San Francisco may not be at the top of the list in terms of number of foggy days, fog is famous in San Francisco. In fact, even though the City By The Bay only sees half of the foggy days as Cape Disappointment, no place on Earth is more associated with fog. Who doesn’t conjure up the image of the Golden Gate Bridge, peeking out from the clouds at the very mention of the city? During the winter months, San Francisco gets enveloped by a tule fog, a radiation fog which develops in humid conditions (like after a rain), calm winds, and abrupt cooling of air temperatures (especially at night, when they are the longest in winter). The mountains trap the cool air clouds and force them downward. “You never think you’ll get used to living in a cloud all the time,” said one resident. “But one day, you find you just don’t mind anymore.”

  5. Mistake Island, Maine. The Atlantic Coast’s fog capital is Maine’s Moose Peak Lighthouse on Mistake Island, northeast of Bar Harbor, where foggy conditions are reported nearly 1,600 hours annually, thanks this time to the chilly Atlantic Ocean. In early 1931, it was announced that Moose Peak Lighthouse “has just completed another year as the foggiest spot in the United States,” according to the Lighthouse Service of the Department of Commerce. The keepers at Moose Peak reported 1,562 hours of fog during 1930, an average of roughly four hours each day. There are no more lighthouse keepers, but tourists flock to the area, only accessible by boat, to see the fog for themselves.

Check out these photos of the foggiest cities from around the globe here!.


Main Photo: Cape Disappointment, courtesy of Adbar, Wikimedia Commons.

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