Despite the numerous ways we’ve managed to make the world more comfortable and convenient for ourselves, there’s really not much we can do about nature. Sure, we can take steps to positively affect climate change and preserving endangered species—and we should—but we simply can’t control the elements.
Just ask these fishermen. They were out on Lake Michigan on what seemed like an otherwise pleasant day, but Mother Nature had other plans for them. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize it until it was too late—just as something sinister was creeping over the water toward them.
It’s safe to say that those who fish for sport have seen some pretty strange things. Andrew Ballard, a 25-year-old doctoral student at Rutgers University, could attest to that. In 2014, he decided to join his father, Spencer, for a simple fishing trip in Lake Michigan near the town of Platte Bay.
Andrew Ballard / Facebook
The duo set out for a day on the lake, and they couldn’t have asked for nicer conditions. They expected to bring home plenty of fish. It seemed, to them, like it would be a predictably enjoyable day…
Roman Boed / Flickr
But it would soon prove to be no ordinary day. Andrew couldn’t believe his eyes—and he immediately snapped pictures of what transpired next. He later shared their experience on Imgur.
The two men hadn’t been fishing for long when they noticed something strange beginning to move across the water in the distance ahead of them. It was white—almost like the foam on the crest of a giant swell. The more they stared, the more it looked like a massive tidal wave…
Andrew filmed the entire event as the billowing wave kept getting bigger and bigger. Soon it would overtake their boat. What could Andrew and his father do? Should they turn back? Ride it out?
Other people in the same circumstances might have retreated at the first sign of danger. It’s unsafe to face an unknown threat out on the water, after all—even if that water is just one of the Great Lakes! But Andrew and Spencer stood their ground…
The intrepid fishermen kept their cool the whole time. Besides, as it would soon turn out, they actually didn’t have a whole lot to be afraid of… aside from feeling a little bit chilly, that is. That’s because this wasn’t a tidal wave at all…
As a matter of fact, it was just a giant wave of fog! Andrew could only utter a single word the entire time he was filming that seemed to sum up the entire experience: “Cool.” But didn’t Andrew and his dad have to steer away from it?
After all, anyone who’s familiar with Stephen King’s The Mist—the story of a small town overtaken by similarly eerie precipitation—would assume that this creepy, otherworldly fog seemed a bit threatening…
In fact, plenty of horror films—like John Carpenter’s The Fog, which features a misty cloud full of angry, seafaring ghosts—depict this kind of haze as dangerous. Thankfully, Andrew and Spencer were facing something totally different…
As this particular fog crept toward the men, they knew it wasn’t an omen of vengeful spirits, nor was it hiding any terrifyingly tentacled monsters. Still, it was a phenomenon—just one of a very different kind.
The father and son later admitted that they’d seriously considered turning back immediately. Who would have blamed them? But their curiosity got the better of them and, of course, they lived to tell the tale!
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr
Apparently, this particular kind of mist was called an advection fog, which forms when warm, moist air moves horizontally over a cold surface. You can see here what advection fog looks like as it creeps over a hillside…
Brandvenkatr / Wikimedia Commons
If you think what Andrew and his father saw was massive, it’s nothing compared to what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration captured. Here was the official satellite image of the same fog hitting Lake Michigan’s coast. Yikes!
The fog wasn’t entirely harmless. According to Andrew, once he and his father had finally made contact with the fog bank, their sense of visibility decreased significantly. At the same time, the temperature became a great deal colder.
It’s no surprise, of course. Whether you’re in a boat, on foot, or in a car, the visibility in an advection fog can become almost nonexistent. Had the father and son gone too much deeper into it, they would have had a far more difficult time returning home!
Runner310 / Wikimedia Commons
Andrew and Spencer didn’t get too disoriented in the mist. In fact, they rather enjoyed themselves! After all, at the end of that exciting day, they’d been on an adventure that not many could say they’d ever experienced. Save for movie pirates, of course.
As a matter of fact, it sounded like it was downright magical. “There would be a clearing and rainbows,” Andrew said in an interview. “Then the fog would close in again.” Luckily, they stayed long enough to see it all!
Just like any good sailor or fisherman, Andrew and Spencer came prepared with the right tools to get them back to the safety of dry land. “We didn’t know where we were so we had to use GPS to find our way back to shore,” Andrew explained.
As great of a story as it was—and as beautiful as Andrew’s own pictures were—there’s nothing quite like seeing the fog for yourself as it slowly rolls across the water. Just watch it as it closes in on the two fishermen in Andrew’s footage!
That’s like something out of a horror movie! Would you have kept your cool the same way Spencer and Andrew did if you were momentarily trapped in fog like this?
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