A Blog About Fog And Smog

fog

Snow on the ground… Warm front on the way… Signifies the start… My favorite kind of day…

When the air is warmer… Than the snowy ground… The fog settles in… And dulls all sound…

Starts in the cracks… Fills in the valleys… In my urban neighborhood… It starts in the alleys…

It gets so thick… You can’t find me… Or the wide smile… That I want you to see…

Reminds me of family…

Or going fishing…

Sitting on a dock…

Hoping and wishing…

We currently have a 2″ snowpack here in Pittsburgh, PA, today started off with freezing rain, but has now turned to rain as a warm front pushes our air temperature into the 60’s for the next two days. Tonight will be foggy as hell, Advection foggy as hell to be a little more precise. Advection fog occurs when warm moist air passes over a cool surface by advection (in this case wind), and is quickly cooled. It is common as a warm front passes over an area with a snowpack… Like we have here tonight!

Funny thing about fog, pollution likes to stick to it. Pollution from chemical laden smoke mixes with the moisture in fog, and you now have smog. The cooler months of the year are not often thought of as a dangerous time of the year as far as airborne pollutants are concerned, but in all reality winter has historically been the most deadly time of year as far as smog is concerned.

During the winter the air near the ground is usually cool, when warm air moves over cooler air, the warm air goes over top of the cold air. Sometimes the warmer air will sit still and keep the cooler air bottled up below it, this is called an inversion in meteorology. When this occurs over a pollution producing valley, it can have deadly consequences.

On October 27, 1948 Donora, Pennsylvania experienced a historic air inversion that resulted in a wall of smog that killed 20 people and sickened 7,000 more. The smog continued until it rained on October 31, by which time half of the town had been sickened. Hydrogen fluoride and sulfur dioxide emissions from U.S. Steels Donora Zinc Works and its American Steel and Wire plant were frequent occurrences in Donora. I have friends that live in Donora and have hung out their quite a bit, it still shows the scars of the industrial revolution that made and destroyed the Monongahela valley.

smog

Nelson’s Column during the Great Smog of 1952

I can’t mention Donora without mentioning London, England, where in December of 1952 a period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone (a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure) and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly from the use of coal to form a thick layer of smog over the city. This event lasted for 5 days and at the time was thought to have killed 4,000 people, as well as sickening 100,000 more. More recent research suggests that the total number of fatalities was considerably greater at around 12,000.

It is known to be the worst air pollution event in the history of the United Kingdom, and the most significant in terms of its effect on environmental research, government regulation, and public awareness of the relationship between air quality and health. It led to several changes in practices and regulations, including the clean air act of 1956.

The next time you are sitting in your house bottled up by the fog, remind yourself that although nature is beautiful when you can see every inch of it in splendid detail, it is also beautiful when you can’t see your own hand. The color of fog is white, a color that often represents empty space, yet with fog, you are looking at a super saturated expanse of nothing… The beauty of which is in the absence of color… Nothing…

peace – chriscondello

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2 thoughts on “A Blog About Fog And Smog

  1. they say Beijing is the same now, fog created by smog. Who knows how many people are dying there…

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  2. Kevin says:

    Like you, I’m a fan of fog. I like how it distorts the landscape — what is usually so familiar looks more mysterious. I agree — the silence in fog is refreshing. May your fog be smog-free. 🙂

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