What’s a fog bow?

Syracuse, NY (WSYR-TV)– NewsChannel 9 viewer Arlene Osborne sent the Storm Team a series of photos of something that looked like a white rainbow asking what it could be.

It’s not a rainbow, but a fog bow!

Osborne, a retired Lakeshore Rd. Elementary teacher sent us these photos from her home in Cape Vincent along the St. Lawrence River.

Osborne said they woke up to a very foggy morning on Monday. “As the sun rose behind us, the fog began to lift from the river, and suddenly this ‘white rainbow’ appeared right in front of us!”

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How does this happen?

This happens when the person who is seeing the fog bow has the sun to their back and the fog out in front of them.

Think of it as the rainbow’s cousin.

What’s the difference between a rainbow and a fog bow?

The process is similar but has its differences.

The sun interacts with the water droplets in both, but the size of the droplets makes the difference.

In a rainbow, the sunlight shining through the larger raindrops reflects and refracts the light to create the traditional red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

In a fog bow, the water droplets in fog are much smaller than in a rain shower, so the light diffracts the light so it appears white instead of multi-colors. Sometimes you will be able to see some of the red showing on top and blue in the middle.

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