What is freezing fog?


Quick Answer

Meteorologists classify freezing fog as a type of fog containing very cold water particles; these particles remain in a liquid state as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit in the air, but turn to ice upon contacting colder surfaces on the ground. Although freezing fog resembles ordinary fog in the air, it coats the ground in a thin layer of ice, creating the same effect as sleet and freezing rain. Freezing fog creates a hazy atmosphere and reduces visibility like regular fog, but contains thicker and heavier particles, giving it a solid look and feel.

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Full Answer

Freezing fog, like regular fog, forms in areas when temperatures and air humidity levels permit. It typically occurs when air temperatures range between 10 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing fog develops in areas with high humidity levels, near 100 percent, and where differences exist in air temperature in a given space.

This type of fog exists throughout the United States. However, it develops most often in mountainous areas, settling over mountaintops covered with low-lying clouds and developing in mountain valleys. Freezing fog bears some resemblance to frozen fog, although frozen fog forms less frequently. Frozen fog appears primarily in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It requires very low temperatures — minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit — for development. This fog features greater thickness than freezing fog and contains frozen, solid ice particles suspended in the air.

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