Foggy conditions challenge valley drivers

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dense fog covered Highway 99 near Fowler Monday night, an eerie sight that slowed down traffic on a normally bustling freeway. Ericka Navarette refueled in Fowler after returning from classes at Fresno State. Her scary trip home that took longer than normal. "The fastest I got was 50 miles per hour. I was in the middle lane because I was pretty scared," said Navarette.

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Across the valley, the fog lifted late in the day Monday, if at all. By early evening, most areas were completely socked in again, amounting to a full day of tricky driving conditions. In Fresno County, a fog related crash at Manning and Lac Jac involved as many as ten cars. A big rig jack knifed and crashed into a Dodge Ram. The California Highway Patrol said the driver of the big rig was driving too fast for the foggy conditions.

Though it may sound like common sense, the CHP is reminding drivers to turn on their headlights and avoid using their high beams while driving in the fog. "Basically, what drivers need to realize is when they're driving in the fog it's like wearing a blindfold while you are driving. And they really need to create that distance from the car in front of them to give enough space cushion if they need to slow down," said Brad Simpson with the California Highway Patrol.

The low visibility also caused 75 fog delays at schools throughout the valley. Southwest of Tulare, the fog was so thick Oak Valley Elementary School District cancelled classes for the second school day in a row. Administrators say visibility was less than 400 feet, making it too risky for bus drivers and parents driving their kids to school.

With more fog headed into the valley over the next several days, drivers are using extra caution and relying on each other for help getting home. "If you can get a lead car in front of you, that helps out a lot. You can watch the taillights and when they disappear, you start saying a prayer and hoping you get home," said Ricky Martin of Fowler.


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fog, local, amanda perez
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