Weather In-Depth: Is it fog or smog?

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When you think of the different types of weather elements that can contribute to travel problems, I think a lot of us do not initially think of fog. But fog is a problem that contributes to some 34,000 accidents annually in the United States.

Unfortunately, there was a significant loss of life as a result of a major highway pile-up in Louisiana this week. Some were calling this a “super fog,” but that is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there was lot of fog, but there was also a tremendous amount of smoke in conjunction with the fog. This smoke was due to wildfires still burning in the southern portion of the state. A more common terminology is something that you may have heard many years before. Because this was combination of fog and smoke, this is better known as smog.

When it comes to smog or fog the visibility really amounts to a specific distance. Clarity can range from two to six miles, which is considered a light haze, or it can scale down to a quarter-mile or less which is a dense fog. So what can you do to deal with this scenario? The primary recommendation is to slow down the driving speed. This means leaving extra time and leaving earlier to reach your destination. Your lights must be on, but your high beams should be off. If the fog is thick enough, consider using your four-way flashers or what is commonly known as hazard lights. Watch for other stalled or stopped vehicles on the side of the road. In the fog these stopped vehicles may come up on you very quickly. And if it all possible, just wait for the weather to pass.

Usually here in Western News York, it is snow that causes poor visibility — and that will be here before you know it.