09 January 2010

Freezing fog

Freezing fog is a meteorological phenomenon that I've only ever seen in France. It happens here in Saint-Aignan infrequently, but more often in other places where I've lived and traveled, including Normandy, Picardy, Champagne, and Lorraine.

I don't remember such a thing on the U.S. East Coast or in the Midwest. Maybe I just missed it. We certainly had freezing rain or even ice storms fairly often, and those are really rare in France. This is a different climate.

The result of freezing fog is a thick, crusty frost.

Freezing fog was what we had yesterday morning. It was really cold by Saint-Aignan standards — the low was -7.5ºC, or about +18ºF — and a cold fog had blown over from the north during the night. The trees and grape vines were coated in a thick layer of frost, especially on their north side.

Friday 08 January 2010 in the Renaudière vineyard

Walt laughs when I say this, but I think we had what I'd call "river-effect" fog or frost. The effect of the river on the climate is much more attenuated than the effect of a big lake like Lake Erie or Lake Ontario is in Upstate New York, for example — but I think it's real. The river isn't frozen over, and it's relatively warm waters release just enough humidity into the air to create freezing fog along the south side of the Cher River when there's a frigid went blowing out of the north.

About half a mile out from the house

Next thing you know you'll be seeing pond-effect snow and fog, Walt said to me. Ha ha ha. But often there is fog over the river, down in the river valley, on chilly mornings, while it is bright and clear up here on the highlands where the grapes are planted. And, under similar weather conditions, I've seen it snow on the south side of the Seine, along the Left Bank in Paris, when it was bright an sunny on the Right Bank, to the north. So I'm sticking with my theory.

Click on the pictures with your mouse to enlarge them

Whatever it was, it was pretty. I went out for a walk with the dog early, and it was a veritable fairyland out there. But it was too dark to take pictures. The fog hadn't yet lifted, in other words. Besides, I needed to have gloves on to keep my fingers from freezing, and it's not easy to take pictures with a pocket-size digital camera when you're wearing mittens. Try it sometime.

You see, I did get out of the car to take a few closeups.

Later in the morning, I needed to go to the supermarket to get some things for the weekend. I drove out through the vineyard and took some pictures, basically from the car. The pictures in this post are just a few of the ones I took.

A close-up view of this scene is my current blog banner.

The reason I needed to go to the supermarket yesterday is that snow was being predicted for today. And sure enough, it is snowing this morning. It's supposed to last all day, with temperatures well below freezing.

8:40 a.m. and good news: the bread lady made it
up the hill with our baguettes for the weekend.
I looked out the window and saw her coming.

The icy weather means KP duty for me. I'm making Poulet Vallée d'Auge, a Normandy specialty of chicken cooked in cider and apple brandy (calvados) with mushrooms, shallots, cream, and herbs.


  1. Beautiful pictures of "The Vines of Winter". They've given all their warmth to the glow we feel when we drink their wines.

  2. Wow! Gorgeous photos of the frost covered vines.
    And your Poulet lunch sounds wonderful. Stay warm and enjoy!

  3. BTW...I've occasionally experienced fog effect from bodies of liquid as small as a wineglass.

  4. Hi Ken, Are there any apples in your 'Poulet' recipe?

  5. Lovely photos and dinner sounds delicious.
    Freezing fog is not common here in Derbyshire but we've had it several times during our stays in LGP. It's always so beautiful but soooo cold.

  6. pics r gorgeous....i agree with u about the fog effect.....in nc it's usually foggier around the lake than in town...hence more humidity, so i would guess more frost too...i had forgotten about that poulet recipe....it it tasty....maybe this weekend! still cold everywhere on this side of the atlantic.....24 here in richmond, but that's warm compared to some...at least sun is out

  7. Freezing fog, like sleet but different I see. Lewis and I have never heard of it before, but you have made us believers.

    When I first saw this morning's header, I thought it was an impressionist painting. I love fog of any kind. We have lots of it here in our mountains.

    I'm glad your bread lady made it up your hill and that you are having such a fine dinner.

  8. Wow, that dinner sounds great! I hope you'll blog about it, with instructions :))

    Your new banner photo is soooo nice. I popped in yesterday afternoon and happened upon it.


  9. Bill, LOL

    Pictures are gorgeous, what else can I say?

    Freezing rain is pluie verglaçante, so freezing fog must be brouilllard verglaçant. They use the latter for some cocktails!

  10. Microclimates exist all around my garden and I notice them around San Carlos too. In the winter, it's two degrees warmer in the hills than it is at our house, in summer, the reverse. The river effect makes sense to me

  11. Bonjour CHM, brouillard givrant and pluie verglaçante are the terms they use at MétéoFrance and on the France2 weather forecasts.

    Chris, it's suprising that it would be warmer in the hills than where you live. Closer to the ocean, I guess.

    Bill, try standing out in the cold with that wine glass and see if it snows or fog freezes downwind. Or maybe Ben Franklin already tried that.

    Martine and Judy, I will blog about it. And yes, apples, cider, and calvados enter into the recipe.

    Melinda, it's about as cold here as in Richmond then.

    Jean, I hope your recovery is going well.

    Loulou, I wonder if you have freezing fog down there in Languedoc.

    Evelyn, like you and Lewis I never saw freezing fog before I came to France. Never heard of it. The chicken was delicious, Walt said, by the way.

  12. I was sorta kinda getting used to the freezing temps in Paris when I left, although I'd rather not have to get used to them.

  13. Starman, I think you ought to rethink the Montreal idea.

  14. Ken

    As usual beautiful pics. I was going to ask for the translation or proper term for "freezing fog" but "le cousin m'a devancée"

    BTW: May be you should look for a pair of these:
    Don't worry they sell them for guys also ( my husband has a pair when he rides his bicycle in spring or autumn ).
    Very practical to wear when one has to look for change for those parking meters when it is freezing outside or keys or like you for taking pictures

  15. Fantastics pics Ken. Your theory about the river makes sense to me. 38 here today, and 41 tomorrow. I'd do a trade for freezing fog right now.

  16. Susan Hernandez11 January, 2010 17:04

    HI, Ken. Happy New Year!
    We experienced frozen fog last month while driving home from Oregon. It felt like driving through a Winter Wonderland. Your photos capture the effect beautifully.

  17. Miam, miam ! Le poulet Vallée d'Auge me donne faim :-)

    Au-sujet des brouillards givrants, il est un fait que lorsqu'il fait froid, on trouve des brouillards givrants lorsqu'on se rapproche d'une rivière ou d'un fleuve, tel la Seine lorsque je descends de ma colline ;-)

    Voilà des sites qui traitent des brouillards givrants :



    Bises givrées :-) Marie


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?