It’s a scene that’s seemingly common, something that JR Hott has seen many times when he’s flying his Panhandle Helicopter. Meteorologically, it’s a pretty normal event, but the result in these photos was captured just right, at just the right time. Just a little later or a bit earlier, and these photos would have never happened.
Last Sunday, Hott went for a flight with his lead captain and fired off some very interesting pictures. The pictures seemed to capture waves of fog flowing over the gulf front condos in Panama City Beach, specifically, Celadon and Splash Resort and several others on the western end of Panama City Beach.
Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf. They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing. He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.
Hott said, reflecting on his thoughts before he posted the original image to his Facebook page, “Eh, these look pretty cool, I thought, maybe I’ll post them to my page. . . When we started seeing the Likes and Shares come through, we were dumbfounded. . . We never expected this.”
What’s really happening in the pictures.
As explained to me by the Panhandle Helicopter guys, when the air temperature, dew point and water temperature are all about the same, a fog is created. Add a slight breeze from off the gulf and that fog will envelope the structures on the beach. If it’s just a little too windy, the fog won’t form.
Meteorologist Dan Satterfield describes the process on his blog:
“Cool air offshore was very nearly at the saturation point, with a temperature near 20ºC and a dew point of about 19.5 degrees C. The air at this temperature can only hold a certain amount of water vapor, and how much it can hold depends heavily on the temperature. Drop the temperature, and it can no long hold as much water vapor, so some of it will condense out and a cloud will form.
“In this case, the air was cooled by lifting it about 50 meters over the top of the condos,” Satterfield continues. “A parcel of unsaturated air will cool when lifted at a rate of 1 degree C per 100 meters. In this case, it probably cooled about 0.5 degrees C, but that was all it took! On the back side of the condos, the air slowly sinks back down and warms at the same rate. As it warms the air can hold more water vapor and the cloud evaporates and disappears!”
The pictures were taken on Sunday, February 5 at 12:40 pm, and the main shots are picturing Celadon and Splash Resort with a variety of other resorts in the shot as well, including Tidewater, Tropic Winds, and Emerald Isle.
The virility of a picture.
Sure, there are talented people that have nailed the creation of viral content over and over, but a large part of creating viral content just really can’t be predicted. A number of anomalies have to occur and fall into place just right to create that viral spread.
In this case, the photo was capturing something that happens on a regular basis, but the shot was captured from a vantage point that is not so regular. We see fog all the time, but we see it from the ground. Seeing it from the air is very unique and rare, especially since helicopters can’t take off in foggy conditions. However, with this situation, the fog was not impacting their landing/take-off location and they were able to get in the air.
The fog seems to be taking over the condos in massive waves, and everything blends together to create a neat, viral package.
So, just how viral is this?
Hott has said he’s literally seen his picture on sites around the world. Spain, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, England, and Russia just to name a few. The pictures have shown up on sites like weather.com, cnn.com, tntmagazine.com, huffingtonpost.com and news.discovery.com. There is a YouTube video from CNN that has over a half million views.
Looking at the Facebook Insights, the original image has over 15,000 people who have interacted with it by either sharing, liking or commenting on it. Bringing the analytics a little further, according to Facebook, the image as “reached” over 33,000 people.
Their Facebook page, last Saturday had just over 1,050 Likes. As of this post, they had just over 2,500 with over 3,500 people “talking about” them.
What are you thoughts on these pictures?