Some aspects of dense fog in the Midwestern United States

Nancy E. Westcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To better understand dense fog events in the midwestern United States, a fog climatology was developed that examines the surface weather conditions at dense fog onset and during dense fog events, in relationship to fog duration. Surface airways hourly observations for the period 1948-96 were examined, focusing primarily on Peoria, Illinois, during the cold season (October-March). Temperature, winds, and visibility at dense fog onset did not prove to be useful in differentiating between short- (1-2 h) and long- (>5 h) duration dense fog events. However, it was found that once dense fog forms, it is more likely to persist if the horizontal visibility is 200 m (1/8 mi) or less and the ceiling height lowers to 30 m (100 ft) or less. Further, dense fog events at Peoria tend to last longer if they are widespread, that is, when many other midwestern surface airways hourly stations also report dense fog. When dense fog develops early in the night to the hours just after midnight, it is more likely to persist than when it develops later in the night or during the day. This was found to be the case for many other midwestern stations as well. Fog events forming earlier in the night may last longer because of the absence of solar insolation upon the fog layer during the night. As longer-duration fogs often become more opaque and more widespread than short-duration events, more time may be required to dissipate fog once the sun has risen. Dense fog onset time and the physical dimensions of the fog events appear to be the best predictors of fog duration considering all types of fog in the Midwest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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