In Search of…Fog. Updated 8/31: 18 for 31 mornings

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Fogs in August

Updated 8/31: The last day of August 2017 was foggy, and it wasn’t…but it was. Translation: no fog in Valle Crucis or Foscoe unless you were looking up at the ridges. There WAS fog reported around Sugar Mountain but only spotty. So I’m borderline on this one. Admittedly we NOT reported a couple of borderline morning fogs, so I’ll count this one.

Here’s a capture from Sugar Mountain’s Summit Cam (which by the way is providing some interesting transitions from the two angles it provides).

Atop Sugar Mountain on this last day of August 2017

Soooo, the final tally for foggy mornings in August of 2017 is – 18.

Eighteen fogs is certainly not as many as we’ve seen in some years and what that means in terms of winter snows…let’s hope we get about double that number in snowstorms, right?

For those who wish – I’ve left fragments of the full month in terms of some observations…for what its worth.

…and now we’ll turn our attention to other things. September is full of great, late-summer and pre-autumn adventures in every mountain community in the region. We will share just some of those that we’ve been made aware of in another post for today. So check out the front page of the website for more!

—-previous updates—

I also snapped this shot at the lower part of Sleepy Hollow as it was so dense that it actually effected the photo quality. You could feel the moisture as well.

foggy mornings in August
This morning in Sleepy Hollow…looking pretty sleepy indeed. Click to Enlarge

The photo at the header of this story was NOT taken this morning, but is from an archived shot posted early in 2016.

So far that takes us to 17 of 30 foggy mornings which will definitely be less fogs than we experienced one year ago when we saw 21 foggy mornings. We’re going to think positive and assume that contrary to popular folklore…this winter will be a snowy one. Last season’s 21 foggy mornings certainly did not translate into abundant snowfalls.

In the interest of trying to be consistent with reporting – I will add that the old farmer’s believed in this stuff and unfortunately that could forecast another “down season” in terms of snows. So we may have to hang our hat on consistent cold temps.

We will be sharing much more in the way winter weather prognostications as we move through September, but one that was shared with me this morning is from Chris Michaels of WCYB television over in Bristol/Johnson City and if his bit of comparing the number of hurricanes prior to September 1st to the snows of the next winter is to be believed – he too thinks there are signs of less snow than normal. See his post at WCYB Chris Michaels.


Wow, we are on a roll around here (in the High Country) as each of the last four mornings have shown dense fog. I’m a little anxious about what this all means because the last time we had this kind of high ratio of fogs to days of the month, it wasn’t the biggest season in terms of snowfall. We’ll see and of course we will be updating the traditional forecasts from the Old Farmer’s Almanac (also their copycat) as well as what Brad Panovich and other meteorologists are seeing long term.

The eclipse came and went and although we were only in the 96% full-eclipse zone around here it really wasn’t all that impressive. I remember witnessing the one in 1979 and it was rather eerie to see things go dark. Here at our offices, we really only saw an odd tint to the sunlight and it appeared that it was more like 8pm than 2:30pm but that was about it.

Kenny Griffin was able to grab a few timelapses off of our webcams from regions in the 100% zone. Check these out:

This first one is from Helen, Georgia.


This one was from the Brasstown Bald cam on resort cams.


Pretty impressive, huh? I received a lot of tweets from my Gamecock brothers down in Columbia, South Carolina, Charleston and also just south of that and the captures there were equally crazy.

This morning, my daughter Lauren sent me this photo of my grandson “J.R.” standing in front of a patch of sunflowers with a great “thumbs-up” about the fog. Never to early to get kids started with all the snow-knowledge we can drill into them. I’ll get him on the slopes this season.

J.R. in the foggy sunflower patch in Valle Crucis



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!


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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