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Watch: Whimsical 'sea smoke' rolls across Vancouver waters during cold snap

What is sea smoke?
Cold weather in Vancouver created the ideal conditions for a phenomenon called "sea smoke" to occur on the water off Stanley Park.

Bone-chilling arctic air created a misty surface on Vancouver's waterfront on Friday morning (Jan. 12).

The Lower Mainland remains under an Arctic outflow advisory as winds gusting up to 60 km/h make temperatures already multiple degrees below seasonal averages feel as low as -20 C.

Commuters faced treacherous road conditions on Thursday night following Vancouver's first significant snow event of the season, resulting in widespread traffic jams and motor vehicle collisions. 

Following the snowy weather, locals woke up to cloudless skies and brilliant sunshine on Friday -- and some people observed a sort of mist moving across the ocean off Stanley Park. 

The 'sea smoke' phenomenon explained

Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau told V.I.A. that the unusual sight is a phenomenon known as "sea smoke" or "evaporation smoke." 

The whimsical sight occurs when bitingly cold temperatures meet ocean waters that are comparatively warmer, resulting in what appears to be mist rolling across the surface.

The opposite of this cold air event is called "sea fog," which occurs when a "relatively moist and warm air mass" moves across colder waters. Water vapour is significantly cooled by cold ocean water, condensing it into "suspended water droplets that create the fog," according to Environment Canada.

Have a look at the sea smoke on Vancouver waters near Stanley Park.