Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pea soup in Florida? Almost, with two days in a rare fog

This is what amounts to a roll cloud sans any thunderstorm action. It brought slightly foggy conditions for a short period just after midnight Sunday. Later Monday morning, the fog thickened, the first of three periods of fog in two days. I had only seconds to photograph this cloud, as it was moving at more than 50 mph, according to my own estimates. That required a high ISO setting - opposed to a long shutter speed - to stop the action.

The glow of streetlights along U.S. 1 in north Melbourne is reflected into a watery ditch. There's a duck swimming around in there, too. The fence in the background was also on my side of the ditch, so I had to extend my tripod fully in order to shoot this scene.

Fog is something people on the far coasts are quite familiar with. It's a common occurrence in San Francisco, and in Maine, the many lighthouses that dot the rocky coastline are equipped with horns for a reason. It's especially troublesome when you combine it with snow during the winter.

But when it happens in Florida, especially during broad daylight, people think it's the end of the world. Some thought it was smoke. Others just thought the seaborne cloud was so thick that driving was incredibly difficult. (For more specifics, see this story in FLORIDA TODAY.) Ultimately, people just like to make a big deal of nothing, as any summer rainstorm in Florida makes for more dangerous driving conditions than this week's fog storm, if you will.

I was just getting out of a brief stay at work Monday afternoon when the main period of fog that got everyone talking rolled in off the Atlantic Ocean. Though it wasn't at all thick and wouldn't qualify as true "pea soup" - a term I always reserved for the 10-foot-visibility stuff - riding through it on a motorcycle was indeed a new experience. It's like putting your face in front of an industrial-strength humidifier, and I had to wipe off my sunglasses at each stoplight. One driver I followed for a good while tapped his brake lights while slowing down, thinking I could see him better.

But even with fogged-up sunglasses that I continued to wear after sunset, I had no problem riding through this rare occurrence. On my Harley, I toured Melbourne looking for scenes to photograph.

There were three separate stints of fog during the past two days, though. The first, which most people did not see, was early Monday morning when I was attempting to photograph the Geminids meteor shower. A dense fog bank quickly blew over the Space Coast as I drove toward the beach, my viewing area. The second was Monday afternoon as I left work, the rarest of them all because of its time of arrival - during daylight. The final one was early Tuesday morning, after it had cleared for a few hours overnight. I did not get photos of the third; I was sick of photographing mist by the time I saw it early Tuesday.

The thickest part of this cloud early Monday morning didn't quite reach the ground in south Cocoa Beach, where I was shooting the meteor shower.

A pelican dives into the Indian River as the second rush of fog rolls inland Monday afternoon in Suntree, north of Melbourne.

I like this shot just because it shows the blue sky with the approaching fog.

A house along Pineapple Avenue in Melbourne is decorated with Christmas lights and shrouded in a light fog.

The fence in front of the same house along Pineapple Avenue. A barking-mad dog came running toward that fence right after I snapped this, my cue to leave.

Fog is only slightly illuminated by headlights in this shot.

A car stops at a light at Parkway Drive and U.S. 1 in Melbourne.


Mark said...

Just a tidbit of info about FL motorcycle law. Make sure you ALWAYS wear some sort of eye protection (clear safety glasses at night). I was once riding without any eye protection because the sun went down and I wouldn't see with sunglasses. Needless to say. Melbourne PD pulled me over and gave me a warning.

Andrew Knapp said...

Oh, yes, I always do. And I eventually switched to clear glasses after stopping.

cara said...

Give us a break. Sea fog is fun to say.

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