The past few days of dense fog have transformed much of Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota into a quintessential winter wonderland, making for a photographer’s delight. Hardwoods and evergreens from the Northwoods to Milwaukee have been coated with layer after layer of what many are referring to as hoar frost. But is it, really?
Meteorologists report that this not-so-unusual phenomenon is actually what is referred to as rime ice, water droplets that freeze into needle-like formations on contact as a result of dense fog and freezing temps. Hoar frost, on the other hand, happens during clear, cold nights when water vapor freezes, and is much quicker to disappear with a bit of daytime sun.
What is unusual about this dazzling bit of winter beauty is its duration. High daytime regional temps and low cloud cover have created dense overnight fog for roughly four nights in a row, and the trend is forecast to continue through the weekend.
Rime ice does present challenges for pilots. And snowmobilers would rather have more snow, I’m sure. But for the moment the view sure is nice, and we could all use that right now. I think we’ll take it.