Winter visitors and newcomers to Teton Valley know that they are likely to encounter slick, snowy roads and cold temperatures but are sometimes taken by surprise by the freezing fog. Snow tires and four-wheel drive won’t help you out when you are suddenly surrounded by thick white fog, and your windshield is coated in thick white frost. You can’t see well enough to keep going, but if you stop, you know someone will run into you from behind. There really aren’t any good options at that point; the chance to avoid the fog has passed.
There are some precautions you can take ahead of time that will make your situation better. The right set of fog lights might cut through the fog but won’t do anything for the frost covering your windshield. Turning on a strong defroster full blast ASAP might help clear your windshield but won’t do anything for the fog. And hopefully, you already have the right wheels to deal with the extra slick roads the freezing fog creates in addition to blinding you.
Low beam headlights and sometimes even rolling down your window and sticking your head out to see around a frosted windshield might be your only chance of getting off the road to a safe pullover where you can wait for the fog to lift and scrape the ice off your windows. But there is a far better option: stop and wait it out before you get into it. You can often see the fog ahead or watch it slowly thicken around you as you move along. That is the time to decide whether to stop and wait or try to plow through it. Choose wisely.
But for those who are not caught up in it, freezing fog is one of the most beautiful winter events we get to enjoy here in Teton Valley. Everything it touches, trees, buildings, fences, weeds, wires, even rocks, gets a beautiful frosty flocking and that perfect Christmas card look. When the fog dissipates, and the sun shines down on that frosty white glistening world, there really aren’t words to express the beauty all around you. Be sure to get out there and enjoy it; with some sunshine and a little wind, it won’t last long and will create tiny private snowstorms as it falls.