It’s a life force, with an uncertain future.
Those of us fortunate enough to routinely cross the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the great bridges of the world, know what to expect in the summer. Fog often whips through the suspension cables. Tourists are bundled up in new souvenir sweatshirts. It can feel like being in a localized storm. I love it.
On the bridge on a foggy day, even in the middle of a summer heat wave elsewhere in California, the thermometer in my car, measuring the cold air rushing off the Pacific, will usually read 59 degrees. As I drive home, that temperature gauge ticks up, steady as the odometer. Where I live, 20 miles north of the bridge, it could be 100 degrees — a 40-degree range in about 15 minutes.
Fog is more than just a surreal quirk of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. It is a vital part of its climatology and culture. It is a life force — and one with an uncertain future.
With that in mind, I spent much of this summer chasing fog and the people who study it, live in it, even try to catch it. The result is a report for our Climate desk, filled with graphics and photos, all trying to clear the air on fog.
Fog is fickle — hard to predict, hard to research, even hard to define. It might be the trickiest thing in meteorology to measure. Unlike temperature, humidity, wind or precipitation, there is no reliable gauge for fog. We know how it forms, but we don’t know precisely where it’s going — later today, or in the years ahead.
That is what vexes scientists. We know that the world is warming at a frightening rate, but no one is quite sure what climate change is doing to fog. The general sentiment from scientists and locals is that it is disappearing. One seminal study in 2010, using observational data from coastal California airports, concluded that fog had declined by one-third since 1951.
Ramifications are huge. Coastal California’s Mediterranean-style climate gets almost no rain from mid-spring to mid-fall. The in-and-out daily rhythm of fog in the summer, the mostly reliable bursts of cool air, is the reason most of us within a quick drive to the coast do not have air-conditioning. It is the reason the world’s tallest trees, the coastal redwoods, survive through otherwise dry summers. It is the reason, from June through August, San Francisco is the coolest major city in the continental United States, maybe the last refuge of refreshing cool air in our warming summers.
All that depends on fog and the cool ocean air it ushers in.
So I went searching for fog and those who spend their lives with it. It led me to, among others, researchers who try to capture it, wringing the air of water the way that redwoods do, to see if fog can be a viable water source. They love the fog.
It took me on a Coast Guard lifeboat and to a control room for San Francisco Bay’s vessel traffic. They hate the fog.
And it took me to what might be the most famous foggy place on the planet: the Golden Gate Bridge. (The emoji for “foggy” shows a cloud and the top of a suspension-bridge tower that looks suspiciously familiar.) Bridge employees include those with the never-ending task of painting the bridge — fog or shine — and those who control something that tourists do not see, but certainly hear: the foghorns.
Now, driving across the bridge, I can point out to my family where those foghorns are. And we will continue to play our usual guessing game as we approach the bridge: Will there be fog? Will we see the tops of the towers?
That’s the beauty of San Francisco’s fog: We never know for sure. But as I tell the kids, fog is a good thing. This place wouldn’t be what it is without it.
Fog shrouds some Bay Area neighborhoods and drenches others in sun. Here is the full story, with photographs by Nina Riggio and graphics by Scott Reinhard.
THE LATEST NEWS
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The billionaire heir to Estée Lauder convinced Donald Trump that the U.S. should buy Greenland. Administration officials then spent months studying the idea.
F.B.I. agents seized the phone of Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and Trump ally, as part of an investigation into vote-machine tampering.
Here’s how a proposal for a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks compares with state laws.
“You have a moment,” Casey DeSantis, the wife of Florida’s governor, has said. Her husband seems to be moving toward a presidential campaign, as a Times Magazine profile explores.
Railroad companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike.
More than one-third of long-distance American freight travels by rail. A shutdown would have hindered the global supply chain.
The talks started yesterday morning and lasted 20 hours. President Biden called the agreement “an important win for our economy and the American people.”
War in Ukraine
Sounds of explosions and spreading paranoia: Unlike in Moscow, the war feels real in a Russian town near the border with Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited a recaptured city near the front, underscoring his military’s recent gains.
Other Big Stories
Flooding in Pakistan has displaced more than 33 million people. It may take months for submerged areas to dry out.
New York is still missing 176,000 jobs lost during the pandemic — the slowest recovery of any major metro area.
Patagonia’s founder gave away his shares. The company’s profits will instead go to fighting climate change.
Baltimore prosecutors are seeking to overturn the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was the focus of the podcast “Serial.”
A jury found R. Kelly guilty of charges related to videos he made of himself sexually abusing a 14-year-old. He’s already serving a 30-year sentence.
A mother was charged with murder in the deaths of her three children who drowned near Coney Island.
The line to see the queen’s coffin is about three miles (and will probably grow). The Times’s Isabella Kwai joined at 2 a.m., calling it “a feat of physical endurance.”
Lindsey Graham is telling us what Republicans intend to do on abortion if they retake power in Washington, Michelle Goldberg argues.
Sports media empire: This one runs on “good vibes only.”
Hardly tropical: Your next cruise could be on Lake Superior.
Pattern recognition: On TV, the faces at the moment a character comes out.
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A Times classic: Getting married? Create a new last name.
Advice from Wirecutter: Keep your kitchen knives sharp.
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SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Donovan Mitchell’s missed connection: The Cleveland Cavaliers introduced their new young superstar yesterday. Mitchell admitted he wanted to play for the New York Knicks. Awkward.
LeBron James speaks out: The N.B.A. superstars LeBron James and Chris Paul rebuked the league’s punishment of Robert Sarver, who is serving a yearlong suspension for racist and sexist remarks in the workplace, saying it should have been harsher.
QB battle tonight: Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert are two of the most important quarterbacks in the N.F.L., and they face off tonight in a highly anticipated game. It’s also the first game of Amazon Prime’s deal to stream “Thursday Night Football.”
ARTS AND IDEAS
New wedding looks
In a year packed with more weddings than usual, the boundaries of black tie are blurring — with guests in sequin, feather and leather.
To stand out in the sea of celebrations, some couples are setting inventive dress codes. And while many guests welcome the chance to dress more creatively, it can be a struggle to decipher the difference between “desert chic” and “coastal chic.”
No matter what, “avoid predictability,” said Donnell Baldwin, a stylist in New York City. This may mean gowns with funky patterns, art-printed dinner jackets and eye-catching accessories like velvet purses or patterned pocket squares.
Share your look: Have you been to a wedding with a distinctive dress code? The Times is collecting readers’ photos for a project.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.
P.S. New York Times Cooking will host in-person events this fall in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York.
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Matthew Cullen, Lauren Hard, Lauren Jackson, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].