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Steam Fog over the Great Lakes - Incredible Phenomenon Seen From Space

First Posted: Jan 07, 2014 05:34 PM EST

When a swirling mass of Arctic air (the polar vortex) moved south and passed over the relatively warm waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, the contrast in temperatures created a visual spectacle. As cold, dry air moved over the lakes in early January 2014, it mixed with warmer, moister air rising off the lake surfaces, transforming the water vapor into fog--a phenomenon known as steam fog.

On January 6, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer MODIS on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of fog forming over the lakes and streaming southeast with the wind. The whole region is white due to snow, water clouds and the steam fog over the lakes.

On January 3, the air mass causinf this began breaking off from the polar vortex, a semi-permanent low-pressure system with a center around Canada's Baffin Island. The frigid air was pushed south into the Great Lakes region by the jet stream, bringing abnormally cold temperatures to many parts of Canada and the central and eastern continental United States. -- Source: NASA Earth Observatory

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