I’ve been in Miramar Beach for twenty years. Like you, I came to visit and realized that this is one of the most beautiful places in America. With its pure white sand, calm clear water, and sub-tropical climate; South Walton is absolutely unbeatable 99% of the time. But sometimes, the weather can be not-so-great. During hurricane season we can see days of high wind or excess rain. During the winter, we may get a few days of freezing temperatures. Generally, however, the temps are great and the skies are clear. That has not been the case this winter – LOL. This winter has been excessively warm, but also very foggy. As I work on the beach or run into folks visiting the area they have all been asking, “Why has it been so foggy?”
“She Blinded Me With Science!”
In middle school we learned about the formation of clouds and the water cycle. The diagrams always showed warm air from the ocean mixing with and rising over cooler air from the land causing condensation and clouds to form. Sea fog, which I think is what we are experiencing, forms a little differently. Sea fog forms when warmer air passes over the Gulf of Mexico and forms condensation as the water cools the air. According to NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center, Station PCLF1-8729840 in Pensacola, air temps off the gulf are currently hovering around 70 degrees F with water temps of 65 degrees F. The Gulf winds push this condensed air over the beaches and a fog settles in. That is why it has been so foggy here, but not a few miles north in Defuniak. The cooler air to the north causes the fog to dissipate.
For the (Snow)Birds
As long as we continue to get warm air off the Gulf of Mexico, there is a good chance we will continue to see foggy skies. When water temps rise we will see the air clear up. The water has been cooler than the air temps, and has led to a really foggy winter. While this year has been uniquely foggy, it has also been very warm. For those winter guests from areas farther north, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Though, the sky has not been perfectly clear the beach is still beautiful and the warm air very pleasant. This is a good trade off, because the beach (even a foggy one) is better than shoveling snow.
“Here Comes the Sun”
For those of you coming to the area later this year, specifically this spring, I would not worry about continuation of this foggy weather. The gulf waters will continue to increase in temperature. This means that the air being pushed in off the Gulf of Mexico will most likely be clear, and we will not experience sea fog like we have been seeing for a past few weeks.
If you are planning on coming to our area, we would like to offer our quality services. We provide beach chair rentals and bonfire services all along South Walton and 30-A. Call, text or email us if we can help you.