In Search of…Fog. Updated 8/18: 11 for 18 mornings

fogs in august

Updated 8/18: After a less-than-desired “fog production” kind of August through the first ten days or some of the month – things have really turned. The last three mornings have been some of the most dense fogs we’ve seen. The previous two mornings have been so dense that even though I flew the drone up to 400′, I could not get above it to capture anything decent.

A late shower produced an awesome rainbow on Thursday. Click to enlarge

As I left the office yesterday around 6pm we were getting a light shower that produced one of the more impressive rainbows I’ve seen in a year or two.

Then this morning’s fog was another rather dense one, but I could see blue sky peaking through as I drove in to the office so once again I launched the drone and caught the photo of the day that you see on the front page of the site.

I had to fly up to about 320′ or so before I cleared the low-lying fog, but then the mountains revealed themselves and I got some nice video and a few photos to share.

Lauren Style also shared some nice fog shots around Valle Crucis and those now put us at from 10-12 foggy mornings so far.

This video is unedited as I am short on time today, but it’s about 3m of nice imagery. Enjoy! (Be sure to watch at least past the first 25 seconds as it’s cool to see the drone rise above the fog.)

Here is one of the nicer still photos that it snapped.

Looking towards Boone. Click to Enlarge!

We’ll keep updating, but things are looking good if the old farmer’s tales can be counted on!

—-previous updates—

Interestingly it has been SO muggy over the last few days. The air is “soupy” full of moisture in the region with pop-up showers happening seemingly every day. As I was driving in this morning – I saw no fog and ‘Valle Crucis’ echoed that – however, thick clouds were draped across the ridge-tops of the surrounding mountains. That takes me to a question sent in from a reader. She asked, “When is fog – fog – and when is it just low-level clouds?”

I’ll get a better photo of Joe, but these guys are even wearing the same coat and style of clothing!

That question would be better fielded by Kenny Griffin or Brad Panovich – who are real weather peeps, but since I’ve been your daily host on SkiSoutheast for a couple of decades, I’ve learned a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.  (If that sounded like a “steal” from the Farmers Insurance commercial, it’s because it is what it is. By the way, does anyone else think that our own Joe Stevens looks an awful lot like J. K. Simmons (the actor) in those commercials?)

…and now back to the question at hand…

What’s the difference between fog and clouds?
Both fog and clouds are formed when water vapor condenses or freezes to form tiny droplets or crystals in the air. So why are they two different things? Fog forms only at low altitudes and clouds can form at many different altitudes. They can be as high as 12 miles above sea level or as low as the ground. Fog is a kind of cloud that touches the ground. Fog forms when the air near the ground cools enough to turn its water vapor into liquid water or ice.

If you’re as confused as I am, that’s because I am as well. Seemingly NOAA says that they are one in the same…but not so much.

Looks like a forward-thinking squirrel gathered these this morning. Click to enlarge!

Another Autumn bit of folklore that some say has ties to predicting winter is the crop of acorns that are produced and fall in July and August. Some scientist will argue that instead of forecasting harsh winters, a heavy crop of acorns (also known as a mast crop) may be a “hind-cast” that has more to do with a previous winter than what’s ahead of us. Regardless, I can tell you that my yard is already filling up with nice sized acorns. Some are heavy enough as they fall 60 feet or so to my decks that they sound like gun shots.

I’ve received a few emails from people asking about the number of fogs that have been witnessed in previous years AND how much snow fell at specific ski resort communities within those years. ALL of that data and more can be found archived throughout this website.

Click to enlarge!

With over 6570 pages of content and thousands of photos, videos and more, you can literally revisit history here – at least as far back as 2004 when we began archiving all of the daily, FirsTrax news.

All you have to do is choose any resort from the top nav on the website, and then click on MOUNTAIN STATS and you can see all the snowfall totals from any year going back more than ten years. (We’ll be updating those pages with last season’s numbers shortly.)

Click to enlarge

In the interim – for those who have already been emailing me – you CAN see last season’s snowfall totals for each resort by clicking on the resort tab, then choose the resort you’d like to look at, and last year’s numbers can be seen there.

One emailer asked me why I had not flown the drone and captured an image from above the fog yet this month. I’ve actually been planning to do that, but so far I haven’t seen a “hanging fog” impressive enough to get above the clouds and film it. The one morning I could have done it, I had left the drone at the lake. I HAVE been getting some pretty sweet videos from over there. Shooting 4K video these days really makes those captures pretty awesome.

The original post/story is below, but some readers have already emailed about where we are taking our official “fog readings” from. Actually, the first couple of days of the month I looked via the cams at all of the resort locations and only Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA exhibited any fog. The last couple of mornings it has been foggy here at the office in beautiful downtown, no-snow, Foscoe. Traditionally, the old Mast General Store has done the old bean jar where for every morning that they witness fog in the valle, they add a jelly bean to the jar. Every time it snows in the winter, they take one out. Over the years it has been uncanny how many times the number was spot on.

This guy look a lot more “tired” than bored.

I’m not certain that some old farmer wasn’t bored out of his gourd one winter a few hundred years back and he sat around and did the math and figured that foggy days within any month could be equal to the number of snowfalls in any given year.

I have a sister-in-law that can recite a natural cure for just about anything that ails you, so more than likely some old, wise farmer just started sharing his own brand of wisdom to anyone who would listen and his message of two hundred years ago went viral and here we are in a more technologically advanced age still sharing his pearls of wisdom.

Regardless of how it all began – the fact remains that we’ve been tracking foggy mornings in August ever since we started this little corner of the internet almost 22 years ago. In that time, we have been amazed at how often the number of foggy mornings in August turn out to be the exact number of snowfalls we have in that winter.

I was talking with a friend about this in mid-July because July was a particularly humid month and it felt like every morning at the lake was foggy until the mid-morning sun baked the skies clear. As he and I spent way too much time analyzing that phenomenon he turned and said, “You know it’s actually kind of odd that we look so forward to seeing fog in August because during the winter we look at fog as a plague”.

He’s correct. Fog is the biggest snow killer every winter. Resorts spend so much money making snow and nothing destroys those corduroy sensations like a dense fog. However, here we are in August when fog is our friend.

We will also start gearing up and hearing from resort ops across the region and we’ll begin sharing “What’s New” and we also thought that we’d revisit some of the history and unique stories about and from each ski area. So stay tuned….

Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.