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Our weatherman Aidan clears up the facts about fog

In the final part in his series Clearing the Air, ITV Anglia weatherman Aidan McGivern has been taking a look at fog.

He's been to Bedfordshire to talk to scientists involved in the latest research on what causes fog and how it can be predicted more accurately.

Click below to watch his special report

And here are ten facts about fog from Aidan

  • The difference between mist and fog is how far it is possible to see. The airline industry define fog as visibility less than 1000 metres. The civilian definition of fog is when visibility is less than 200 metres.
  • When fog occurs and the temperature is below 0ºC, it is called freezing fog.
  • Rime occurs when the water droplets in fog freeze onto the outer surfaces of objects, giving everything a frosted covering.
  • Smog is a type of air pollution made up of smoky pollution and fog. The worst smog to ever hit the UK was the Great Smog of 1952, which wreaked havoc for four days in London. This led to the Clean Air Act of 1956.
  • Vog occurs when volcanic gases such as sulphur dioxide react with oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere under direct sunlight to give a volcanic fog. It is common in Hawaii.
  • Fog is simply another type of cloud: a stratus cloud that sits on the ground
  • The foggiest place in the world is the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland where the cold Labrador current from the north meets the warm Gulf Stream from the south. The water vapour that accompanies the Gulf Stream cools quickly and condenses, forming fog.
  • In the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the driest places on Earth, fog is harvested from the air - using mesh-patterned nets to collect its water droplets.
  • The Fogstand Beetle in the Namib Desert stand still in the fog and allow the water droplets to condense onto their body, which they then drink.
  • Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is the only object other than Earth in the Solar System known to have plenty of liquid on its surface. It is also the only other object to have patches of fog, albeit fog made up of methane and ethane.

Damage to home caused by "mini tornado"

There was damage to at least one home at Winfarthing near Diss today.

One family came home to find what they believe may have been a mini tornado had struck their home.

One house at Winfarthing near Diss Credit: Paula McQue
More damage at Winfarthing Credit: Paula McQue
A tree also hit power cables Credit: Paula McQue

As well as high winds in places there was also some torrential downpours.

Drains were overflowing, cars were struggling and passers by were getting absolutely drenched.

Damage to the garden Credit: Paula McQue

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Our weatherman Aidan takes a very close look at clouds

Aidan with the research plane

In the latest in his series Clearing the Air, ITV Anglia weatherman Aidan McGivern has been taking a close look at clouds.

He's even been flying fifty feet above the North Sea - in a bid to explain how clouds are formed....

Aidan writes:

Even in the middle of summer, clouds are a familiar sight in the skies above the UK. But the tiny particles that cause clouds to grow and decay are much more difficult to observe. In fact, the best way to study them is to take to the skies and journey to the heart of the clouds

Flying 50 feet above the sea

Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire is the home for the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM). Using one of the most advanced research aircrafts in the world, Scientists from the Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council study everything from the physics of the clouds to the chemistry of the sky.

Inside the research plane
Met Office experts

In July, I took to the skies with atmospheric scientists from across the UK for an instrument test flight ahead of a research mission to the tropics. This summer, they are investigating the moment when water droplets in clouds freeze and how this impacts the development of the cloud.

Ten facts about clouds

  1. Other planets in our Solar System have clouds. The clouds on Venus are made of sulphur dioxide whilst Jupiter and Saturn have clouds of ammonia.

  2. In 1803, Luke Howard used Latin words to classify the clouds into nine main types. These included Cirrus \(wisps\), Stratus \(a layer\) and Cumulus \(a heap\).

  3. The average thickness of a cloud droplet is 0.02mm in diameter. This is around five times smaller than the thickness of a sheet of paper.

  4. The sunniest city in the world is officially Yuma in Arizona with over 4000 hours of sunshine each year, which amounts to around 91% of the time.

  5. The cloudiest parts of the world are found close to the poles and the cloudiest city on the planet is thought to be Chengdu in China, which has just 1100 hours of sunshine each year.

  6. Clouds are good omans in Iran. They have a saying for when someone is blessed with good luck: “dayem semakum ghaim”. This translates as "your sky is always filled with clouds"

  7. Clouds are very heavy. A small cumulus cloud might typically weigh as much as two elephants.

  8. In 1959 Lieutenant\-Colonel William Rankin, a pilot in the US Air Force, was ejected from his plane and into a cumulonimbus thunderstorm cloud. He spent half an hour trapped in the cloud, thrown around by the up and downdrafts and pelted with hail. Amazingly, he survived the ordeal.

  9. Most clouds form in the lower part of the atmosphere called the Troposphere. Occasionally, clouds can form in the Stratosphere, which is the layer above the Troposphere. These are called Nacreous clouds.

  10. Only 1% of rain outside of the tropics comes from ice-free clouds.

Warnings for thunderstorms this evening and tonight

Rainfall radar at 17:40. Showers breaking out over parts of East Anglia whilst another pulse of heavy rain approaches from northern France. Credit: Met Office.

Yellow and amber warnings are in force for heavy rain as thunderstorms approach the East of England from the near continent this evening.

The amber warning is in force until 21:00 this evening and covers southern parts of Essex and the south East of England.

Yellow and amber warnings are in force for the East of England this evening. Credit: Met Office.

The Met Office Chief Meteorologist warns:

Another pulse of thundery activity from France will extend across the area this afternoon and evening. The ground remains saturated from earlier heavy rain, and the high water loading in the atmosphere means that more than 30 mm in an hour or less could well occur locally.

– Met Office Chief Meteorologist

Elsewhere, a yellow warning is in force until late Friday because of the risk of further heavy rain overnight and into Friday afternoon:

Localised thunderstorms may also develop across south east England and East Anglia during Friday late afternoon and evening, these potentially giving 15-25 mm of rain in an hour.

– Met Office Chief Meteorologist

The environment agency are also urging people to be careful not to drive through floodwater and for campers and holidaymakers to check the flood risk for their area.

Heavy rainfall this afternoon and into this evening brings risk of further surface water flooding, particularly for parts of Essex. If you’re driving away or back from your summer holidays, as always, please remember not to drive through flood water. People are urged to check their flood risk on our website, especially if you’re holidaying in an area where you’re not familiar with the flood risk.

– Nick Hopwood, national duty flood manager at the Environment Agency

Clearing the air: The science behind our weather

'Clearing the air' the science behind the weather Credit: ITV News Anglia

Ever wanted to know more about the science behind our skies? Well ITV News Anglia's weather presenter Aidan McGivern has been looking into it as part of a new series of reports called 'Clearing the air'.

He's been looking at how fog forms, which clouds will give us rain, and how polluted the air outside is - and he's been finding out about it by meeting the scientists who turn their eyes to the skies and research the state of the atmosphere.

His first stop is at Weybourne - an unlikely site for research into global pollution levels.

Click below to watch his report.

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