Foggy Days

I was out at UBC on Friday for some meetings; one with IT regarding a new platform my online courses are being moved to, one with a Faulty member over some compensation discussions, and the last with a former colleague regarding a research grant proposal I started out offering to help facilitate sample acquisition for, and then somehow ended up as a co-applicant on.

The UBC campus is on a point of land that pokes out into the ocean where the Fraser flows to meet the sea. It also becomes enveloped in fog quite often in the fall and winter, cloaking it in a shroud of quiet. Particularly when classes have ended and the number of people walking drops as students study for and write their exams.

I like the peacefulness of fog, when I was younger and living back home in Prince George, when the fog appeared, I would often dress warmly and walk over to the elementary school I used to attend and just stand in the very middle of the field. From there I couldn’t see a house, the roads were beyond view, and I couldn’t hear much of anything. I loved, and still do love, the absolute solitude and isolation that comes with a thick blanket of fog. I suppose that highlights my love for quiet and calm environments.

When I moved to the coast the fog was different The first time I saw fog here I thought it was smoke from a fire. I’d never seen fog move. Where I came from fog only developed in ultra calm air.This new fog came with it’s own breezes. It was alive.

Later, when I started boating and learned about weather, and took weather courses, I learned that the fog I’d grown up with is called radiation fog; it forms overnight as the air near the ground cools and stabilizes, the cooling causes the air to reach saturation and fog forms. But it is delicate in nature and a breeze will stir it up and dissipate it.

Fog on the coast is generally advection fog, and it has some solidity to it. All the wind does to advection fog is help move it around to invade new areas. Advection fog can last for days, or even weeks. It will pull back out to sea a bit during the daytime as the land warms up, but when the lands cools again at night, the fog comes rolling back in to blanket everything again.

Fog on the coast strands mariners.

If an inversion in temperature happens and the air above warms while the air below stays cool, the fog can gain a foothold and mot move for days. A few years back we had a blanket of fog that stayed put all the way across the Lower Mainland and the Strait of Georgia for 19 days straight. People in desperate need of sunshine flocked to the local mountains. At the lookout on Cypress mountain, part way up to the ski hill, hundreds of cars lined the sides of the roads as people basked in the sunshine on the banks and watched airplanes pop out of the blanket of white below.

Today the high pressure system has weakened and the fog is mostly gone except in some reaches of Indian Arm and other cooler spots where it has taken refuge.

But it will be back, and I welcome the feeling of isolation and solitude that it brings along with it.

Now, back to marking papers…..

Foggy campus