27 December 2013

Hochnebel

Hochnebel - a German word used in the Alps that describes the "sea of clouds" weather phenomenon. It simply means high fog. Usually, the phenomenon appears in the cold months of the year and is caused by low lying stratus clouds. At the extreme, the low-lying stratus clouds can last for many weeks and they can cover vast areas like whole countries leaving just the mountain peaks above in the sunshine. Below the clouds there is the most depressing possible weather: a monotone cold humid grey... Above the clouds.. well, there is the most glorious weather: warm and bright, above a sea of clouds that stretches to the horizon.

In the Alps, the altitude of the clouds' upper limit is mentioned on the weather-reports so people can plan their weekend trips above the clouds. Not so in Romania where I live. Most people here are not aware that a few hundred meters above the miserable weather the sky can be blue and the sun shining!

In cities, under the sea of clouds, the air also gets very polluted. The static weather means that there is no wind to sweep away the fumes from the cars, industry and buildings heating. The cold air only makes it worse as more fuel is burned for heating.

So during the cold months of the year, when the weather is grey, if you live close to the mountains, check the web-cams on the mountains. You might have a surprise!

This year, the winter in Brasov started with 3 weeks of Hochnebel. So whenever possible, I chose my trail running routes so I would reach the sunshine above the clouds. What a joy getting out of the fog into the sunshine... and what a shock descending back to the city through the cold humid fog...

Here are a few photos with the sea of clouds phenomenon in the mountains around Brasov, taken during the last years: