What is it about fog that makes it a ‘creepy’ weather phenomena?

Fog formation can happen fast or take hours

Dense fog (file)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fog. It’s considered a “spooky” weather phenomena often seen in horror movies or any movie scene that requires some sort of suspense.

There’s even an entire horror flick named after it, called (yeah, you guessed it) ”The Fog.”

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Let’s start with why fog forms and in a minute we’ll come back to why it’s considered a creepy weather phenomena.

In order for fog to appear, there has to be some sort of pollution or dust in the air for water vapor to condense around, and it has to be very humid outside. For example, sea fog forms around tiny particles of salt in the air. When the temperature and dew point of the air approach the same value or are less than 5 degrees Fahrenheit between each other, fog begins to show up. This can happen either by the air cooling like in advection, radiation or upslope fog or by adding enough moisture to raise the dew point, like with steam or frontal fog.

Fog formation as the sun sets after the summer rain taken by meteorologist Samara Cokinos. (WKMG)

Radiation fog forms at night when the heat absorbed by the Earth’s surface during the day is radiated back into the air. Clear skies overhead allow this to happen the best, as there is no cloud cover to trap the heat trying to escape. The heat that’s transferred from the ground to the air forms tiny water droplets.

Advection fog forms when warm, moist air passes over a cool surface. When that moist, warm air makes contact with the cooler surface air, water vapor condenses to create fog. Advection fog shows up most frequently in places where warm, tropical air meets cooler ocean water.

Now, back to why fog might give some people the “chills.”

Fog can be patchy or even very dense. The thicker the fog, the less people can see, often making it a danger on the roads late at night or early in the morning. Whether fog is patchy or dense, it still conceals a lot of things, making the unknown a bit unsettling. Add in dark woods, a full moon and animal noises or rustling leaves and the stage for any horror movie scene is set. The concealing factor of fog, along with not knowing what is coming toward you, may trigger a suspenseful feeling. This element is often used in movies to create fear before something scary happens.

Despite the use of fog to create suspenseful and spooky moments in movies, the low clouds can also give landscapes a peaceful or serene look, too. This happens once the sun begins to rise, revealing what’s in the shadows and making the element of fog less creepy. There’s just something about the sun rising over rolling hills in a pasture with sleepy trees glimmering in the light and a few horses off in the distance on a crisp fall morning over a steaming cup of coffee, don’t ya think?

Fog has also been used to create a dreamy or whimsical effect, too.

Fog on the dance floor at the wedding of meterologist Samara Cokinos' son and his bride added a dreamy feeling during the first dance. (WKMG)

Many wedding planners have used fog machines along the sides of dance floors to make a newlywed’s first dance seem like something out of a dream. A little fog can go a long way!

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About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.