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Foggy days are here again
It’s been a record-setting stretch of fog in the Lower Mainland, with Richmond hit harder than most because it’s surrounded by water.
Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald said the previous record, dating back to when records were first kept in 1937, was seven days, which occurred in 1979.
And with Thursday being the eighth straight day, that’s a record.
“It’s a pretty historic event,” MacDonald said.
He explained that a massive ridge of high pressure has established itself over the Lower Mainland, which has prevented the mixing of the lower atmosphere.
Normally such a ridge would be haled for providing clear skies, but that was spoiled by the fog.
A combination of sea fog and radiation fog has then settled over the Lower Mainland, and because the sun’s angle is decreasing and not as strong as during the summer, it’s not as effective at burning off the fog, MacDonald said.
On Wednesday, Vancouverites woke up to a sunny day, but Richmond was covered in thick fog.
But things look to be changing by Sunday, when the high pressure ridge is expected to begin shifting, resulting in a change in the weather pattern and an end to the stagnant air mass.
Cooler temperatures, including frost, could hit the Lower Mainland by Sunday night, though Richmond might not get that cold because its weather is moderated by the surrounding sea.
Foggy days were once a common sight in Richmond back in the 1960s, ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Long-time local Bob Ransford said he recalls much worse stretches, and that people shouldn’t panic.
“It’s not that thick...you can see where you’re going,” he said.
Back in 1981, the fog was so thick for a nearly two-week stretch that it almost completely shut down the Vancouver International Airport.
He recalls that you simply couldn’t get a flight back east, although there were pockets of openings here and there.
The fog was like pea soup, with drivers being unable to see the hood of their cars.
Ransford said he recalls his father telling him stories about the Interurban Tram, with it being impossible to see if somebody was waiting for a ride at the station even with the tram just five feet away.
They had a system set up where passengers would wave a flare to be seen, he said.
He recalls the fog being so bad decades ago that every season, at least a couple of people would die from driving their vehicles into ditches and drowning.
Back then, there wasn’t as much street lighting,there was much less development, and the ground was colder.
To make matters worse, some homes burned sawdust for heat, others had oil furnaces, which added to amount of particulate matter in the air.
Richmond has been coated in fog much of the time in the past week. Philip Chin photo/@iphilflash