Fog kept Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officers busy with crashes along Northern San Joaquin Valley highways Tuesday morning, and forecasters predicted more murky weather this morning.
According to the National Weather Service, patchy fog is expected before 10 a.m. today in the Modesto area. Other areas of the valley can expect the same.
Clear morning weather is forecast Thursday and Friday, but foggy mornings should return to the region Saturday and stick around through early next week.
The California Highway Patrol sent out a clear message to morning commuters:
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Reduce your speed.
Turn on your low-beam headlights.
Leave home earlier.
Keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
"One hundred percent of your attention should be on your driving," said officer Tom Killian, a spokesman for the CHP's Modesto-area office.
Tuesday from 5 to 11:30 a.m., the CHP responded to nine crashes. Six of those occurred from 6:52 to 9 a.m., Killian said. Two crashes resulted in minor injuries and seven were noninjury crashes.
About 4 a.m. on Highway 99 near the south end of the county, CHP officers in patrol units conducted "round-robins," in which officers drift back and forth across traffic lanes with emergency lights on to slow traffic.
Officers use round-robins when a major crash is ahead or on highways when visibility drops to less than 500 feet.
Killian said the CHP can't use these maneuvers if all available officers are busy responding to crashes.
He said drivers Tuesday were not reducing their speed to adjust to the low visibility, and some of them were driving without their headlights on.
"They think everything is OK because they can see out their windows," Killian said. "The headlights are there for everyone else, so they can see you."
The fog also affected other forms of travel. At least one flight from Modesto to San Francisco was delayed because of the fog, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.
- Drive with lights on low beam. Never drive with just your parking or fog lights.
- Wear bright clothing.
|Safe auto speeds for reduced visibility|
|300 feet||56 mph|
|250 feet||50 mph|
|200 feet||43 mph|
|150 feet||36 mph|
|100 feet||27 mph|
|50 feet||16 mph|
|20 feet||8 mph|
The color of the day in winter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley is often gray and can last for days on end. The fog contributes to vehicle accidents - some of which become major pileups - and is known to delay the start of school because it is too dangerous for students to walk or be bused through the soupy weather.
- Fog is formed when cool air can no longer hold any more water vapor. Rapid cooling of air over warm ground causes the vapor to form tiny water droplets that become suspended in the air.