#12: The Relentless Fog

Well, today it's a combination of wind and fog that is keeping us on land, but for days it was just fog. If you've ever seen a horror movie called "The Fog" you'll understand when I tell you that the fog in Lubec could have played a starring role in that film. We have serious fog here. Sometimes it's a persistent mass that hangs over the area for weeks, only to be cleared when a dry northerly wind blows it away (warm southwest air holds the most moisture and that moisture condenses into fog as it is blown over the water). Other times, when the wind is light, the fog comes and goes with the tide. It may be perfectly clear in Lubec while the tide goes out but when it turns, wraith-like fingers of fog creep up our street from the Lubec Channel. Soon the water completely disappears from view (it's only two blocks away) and we hear the distant, mournful tones of the West Quoddy Lighthouse. Often the fog carries with it so much moisture that the sound of water dripping from the trees fills the air.

The Lubec fog comes in many forms, from delicate wisps to impenetrable walls, but it almost always prevents us from going out to sea. As of today, the fog has kept us landbound for 10 of the past 13 days! Because we use visual cues to find right whales (a tail lifted in the air or their distinctive V-shaped spout), we need to have good sighting conditions in the Bay of Fundy. So unless we expect the fog to clear by mid-morning, we just stay in, working on data and hoping for better weather tomorrow.

And when tomorrow rolls around one or two of our team members will check the weather, as we do every morning at 5 a.m. It involves a) looking out the window and b) checking a few weather websites for the day's forecast. We're looking for clear weather--no fog (for visibility) or rain (for camera and computer equipment)--and light winds. Ideally that means 10 knots (11.5mph) or less, but we often have to work in winds stronger than that. However, if winds are above 15 knots (17mph) it becomes too difficult to take photos (and hang on at the same time). This is especially true when the wind is against the strong Fundy tides, causing even higher seas.

To see a couple of the weather websites we use, check out marine forecasts here, and check this site to see buoy reports for the current conditions out in the Bay of Fundy (buoy "L" is the one closest to us).

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