The Fog Bank Lurks

The fog bank is out there.  You can see it on the water, lurking and looming, just beyond the little island in the middle of the harbor.  The fog bank is so thick that it totally obscures all but the highest hilltop on Isle au Haut, wiping it clean from the photo.

It’s been pretty foggy here for the last few days, and for the native Midwesterner the speed — and seeming perverseness — of the fog movement is breathtaking.  You might see fog in the distance, and the next thing you know it has barged into town and your bare skin is covered in moisture.  On other days, the fog might wait out on the horizon, keeping its own counsel and deciding if, and when, to roll in and blanket the sun.  And on other days, the fog is simply gone, and you can see for miles out into the harbor without a hint of fog to be seen anywhere.

Dr. Science would tell you that fog is a natural condition caused by a process called advection, when warm, moist air passes over a cooler surface — in this case, the bracing waters of the Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean just beyond the islands in the bay — and water vapor in the air condenses to form water droplets that make the fog opaque.  That’s a very scientific explanation, but it doesn’t quite capture the almost human, unpredictable qualities of fog.

Because we know the fog is out there . . . waiting. 

The Spreading Stain

As the oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, more than two months after the Deepwater Horizon sank, scientists have completed detailed models of ocean currents that predict where the oil will go.  It’s not good news for the Atlantic coast of the United States or the Atlantic Ocean generally; the simulation indicates that the oil will move into the “loop current” and then be whisked up the coastline and eventually into the north Atlantic.  It’s not certain, of course, and we may get lucky, but scientists think it is likely that the oil will move out of the Gulf in the next six months.

The recriminations about the original Deepwater Horizon incident and the government’s response to the incident are escalating.  Imagine how heated the political discourse will be if the oil continues to flow and, by Election Day, tar balls and oil plumes are polluting the beaches of the Atlantic coast of Florida and South and North Carolina.