Sea smoke in Maine
January 27, 2015 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Sea smoke or steam fog, fog caused by cold air flowing over a body of comparatively warm water, the vapor condensing in small convective columns near the water surface and giving the appearance of smoke or steam. It is common in the Arctic and Antarctic, but if it is cold enough, it sometimes it happens in Maine; youtube links follow (some with music of varying quality): one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
posted by gudrun (14 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We have a lake in my town that's not so big (about 3 miles around) and the steam that comes off of it when you go from winter to spring is gorgeous and a little bit spooky.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 AM on January 27, 2015

In Toronto, we call these 'lake devils'.
posted by Evstar at 7:29 AM on January 27, 2015

posted by Evstar at 7:30 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

We see these all the time in Michigan, especially in the fall when we get a cold snap.
posted by HuronBob at 7:34 AM on January 27, 2015

Oooh, we used to have these on really cold days at my summer camp in Maine! It was awesome and if you had a cabin with a view of the lake you could look out and it would be beautiful and foggy and you'd be snug in your bed and we'd have extended rest and it would feel GLORIOUS. I think about those days a lot when I want to feel cozy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:39 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is called "what it looks like when you drive over the Mississippi River in Minnesota in the Winter"

It's pretty, but I always figured it was too common to be notable.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:44 AM on January 27, 2015

sparklemotion - The videos are of sea smoke, the ocean variety, which is less common outside of Arctic regions than steam fog, the river version (which also happens on lakes as well of course). But really it's just an excuse to post some pretty videos.
posted by gudrun at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2015

Advection fog is sort of the converse of this, with warm moist air moving over a cold surface.
posted by exogenous at 9:22 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Such a beautiful phenomenon; I saw it on occasion when I crossed Memorial Bridge from Kittery, ME, to Portsmouth, NH, and it is magical. We also had some recently in northeastern MA, though I didn't get up early enough to see it.
posted by Miko at 9:37 AM on January 27, 2015

(should also say I sneaked in one video of sea smoke in NJ, my home state, which happens rarely; see if you can find it.)
posted by gudrun at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw this happening as I drove next to Lake Coeur d'Alene late at night about a month ago. It was really beautiful.
posted by hippybear at 10:04 AM on January 27, 2015

Thanks exogeneous! I grew assuming all fog was like the giant rolling wall of fog that comes from the ocean. Sometimes it's sitting just off shore, sometimes it rolls up into the Halifax harbour and creeps up Halifax hills. Now that I'm so worldly and travelled I understand and recognize the inferior fog in river valleys and the smoke fog off rivers and lakes. It's beautiful and mostly enjoyable when you are inside or dressed properly.
posted by Gor-ella at 11:22 AM on January 27, 2015

The video I watched was titled "Sea Smoke on the Water". I couldn't stop my brain from adding "Sea Fire in the Sky".
posted by benito.strauss at 12:13 PM on January 27, 2015

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