A “fognado” might sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, and people on the beach in Santa Cruz, California, on Wednesday may have thought they were starring in one. A massive cloud of fog menacingly engulfed a Santa Cruz beach last week, and those who witnessed it—or saw it film—aptly dubbed it a “fognado.”
A video on Facebook captured the mysterious weather phenomenon, and it is definitely a sight to see. Although the “fognado” really does look like a tornado of fog, experts say it was actually just a roll cloud.
The video below, taken by Julia Elman and posted on SFGate’s Facebook page, shows a fast-moving cloud formation passing over Natural Bridges State Beach:
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A fan on KSBW’s Facebook page, Ingrid Schmidt-Wagnaar, described the incident:
All of a sudden the trees were bending. Waves of the fog (were) wafting through the garden and it got a bit chilly, whereas it was a balmy 85 degree [sic] just moments ago. It was over in less than 3 minutes, and blue sky was again upon us, and it got warm again. Nature’s phenomenon.
Although ominous-looking, a “fognado” is actually quite different from a tornado. Tornados move vertically, while roll clouds move horizontally. Roll clouds are relatively rare, and they occur as a result of detaching from a thunderstorm base. In this case, the storm that caused this “fognado” was actually nowhere near California’s central coast, and meteorologists have not yet pinpointed exactly where the storm was, according to KSBW.
Weather can be pretty crazy, and if you’ve never a witnessed a roll cloud before, you might find yourself in a panic. Luckily, all of the Santa Cruz beachgoers were unharmed, and the high-speed moving “fognado” passed without causing damage. Temperatures may have plummeted momentarily, but before anyone knew it, the “fognado” was out of their sight, and everything returned to normal.