Ice fog settles over frozen Edmonton in frigid temperatures

As Edmontonians woke up Wednesday morning, a thick layer of ice fog was spreading across the city.

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak, ice fog can be simply described as water crystals suspended in cold air. In cities, it usually occurs between -30 and -35 C. 

It only occurs in cold temperatures where water droplets suspended in air can remain liquid as low as -40 C. 

"In the city, there's more little tiny particles from a car exhaust and buildings and heating and that all becomes various things for water droplets and moisture droplets to condense on it," Kulak said.

Min Dhariwal / CBC News

For Edmonton, where temperatures dipped down to -37 C for the Wednesday morning commute, he said it was inevitable.

Exhaust from vehicles, coupled with exhaust from the thousands of chimneys means water vapour was actually coming off thousands of sources across the city.

"[It] just builds up a bit of extra humidity in the city. Really the fuel for creating ice fog in an urban environment," Kulak said.

But Kulak said once the sun comes up, the fog does tend to dissipate a bit 

Kulak said one way drivers can help bring down the levels of ice fog people have to worry about is to tap their gas and brakes lightly.

"Ice fog can be really nasty in terms of its visibility," Kulak said.

Conquering the cold

Although Edmonton is in the midst of a cold snap, many who live in the city say the extreme cold is just a part of living in a winter city.

"It's just part of living in Edmonton." - Christopher Carline, cyclist

Chris Carson, who has lived in the city for most of his life, was out for a walk Wednesday afternoon while many were hiding indoors.

"You bear through it, you have to deal with this if you're going to live here," Carson said.

Christopher Carline, a downtown cyclist, has a goal to bike throughout the year whether there's rain, snow, ice, or -40 C temperatures.

Scott Neufeld / CBC News

"It's just part of living in Edmonton. I don't think anyone really enjoys when it's this cold; it's pretty tough. I think we all take a little pride in it. This is part of living in Alberta," Carline said.

Carline recommends Albertans try out his method of travelling around in the winter, but to approach cautiously if they're cycling through ice fog.