“Waterdogs” may look like smoke after thunderstorms

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JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – With thunderstorms in the forecast, local firefighters are letting the public know about a weather phenomenon that can make mountains appear to be smoking.

Rural Metro Fire explained a “waterdog” is a pocket of fog that collects in mountains after a wet thunderstorm. Because thunderstorms can cause fires, people may end up calling 911 to report what looks like smoke when it is, in fact, a waterdog.

If you see isolated mist or fog in the hills without seeing flames or smelling smoke, Rural Metro says it may be a good idea to take a step back and assess the situation. They listed the following steps to tell the difference between smoke and a waterdog:

  1. Take a second to see if it dissipates.
  2. See if it just lays in the draw, or produces a vertical column.
  3. Look for blue or brown colors that indicate smoke.
  4. Call 911 right away if you think it is smoke, or [if] you’re not sure what it is.
  5. Try to provide a good geographical location where you see the “smoke”.
  6. Stay in a location to meet with firefighters so they can see it from the same perspective as you.

“Your help is greatly appreciated so that firefighters can be their most effective with actual fires,” Rural Metro Fire said.

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