Sea smoke made Lake Superior look incredible this morning

Duluth is looking even more beautiful than usual on Tuesday morning.
Publish date:
Updated on

There's a treat for anyone in Duluth or the North Shore, as the frigid Minnesota weather is creating a stunning effect on Lake Superior.

Sea smoke – also known as steam fog or frost smoke – is created when cold air passes over a warmer body of water, causing a beautiful, mysterious mist effect to emanate from the water.

Images of Duluth on Tuesday morning have been shared on social media, including the above picture which was posted on the Minnesota subreddit, showing the dramatic fog effect invading the shores of Lake Superior.

Air temperatures in Duluth fell as low as 11 below on Monday night, with the wind chill making it feel like minus 31 at one point, according to the National Weather Service. describes the process that creates sea smoke: When cold air passes over warmer water, it heats rapidly, which induces "convection currents" that rise in the air, carrying moisture upwards from the water.

This moisture quickly condenses in the cold surrounding air, creating columns of rising water vapor. It is typically seen around Arctic landmasses, such as parts of Norway, Greenland and Canada.

The same thing can happen with rivers, when the air is 50 degrees or more colder than the water, the website notes.

Next Up