Yesterday evening, at around 6pm, the weather forecast for early this morning shifted, suggesting that the skies would be crisp and clear for just long enough to see today’s dawn lunar eclipse (the last lunar eclipse until 2014). Accordingly, I changed my plans to try and see it and headed out to the Olympic Peninsula for an oceanside view. When I stuck my head out of the back of my truck at 4:30am clouds had rolled in.. of course (this is the Northwest after all). Oh well. Back to sleep. At 6am I poked my head out again. Still clouds – and not pretty ones, a solid sheet of gray. Back to sleep. At 9am, however, the sky had cleared completely. So much for my plans! A little discouraged I made my way back inland to where I expected to find some hoar frost from the cold (-2 C) and clear night. I stumbled upon some frosty ferns, which ultimately made my day.

Click image for larger view!

Hoar Frosted Ferns, Olympic National Park

"Frosty Fingers" ~ Olympic National Park, WA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105 mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/14, 1/4th sec
Notes: 10 images blended with Helicon Focus for infinite depth of field.

Hoar frost forms on cold and clear nights due to radiative cooling, and takes the form of tiny white ice crystals that grow on the edges of objects that are colder than the surrounding air temperature. Fundamentally it’s just like dew, except frozen. It is particularly plentiful in areas that have a clear view of the night sky, and is often found in dips and valleys where cold air and fog collects. This type of frost is in fact the leading cause for traffic accidents in the Northwest, so be careful out there on those cold and clear nights (more information see Cliff Mass’s very informative Pacific Northwest weather blog: Freezing Fog).

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One Comment to “Frosty Fingers : Hoary Winter Crystals”

  1. Lovely done Floris! Even though your sunrise was not ment to be, you still managed it 🙂
    The vignette just adds to the composition!