Oregon continues to experience temperatures in the nineties approaching 100 degrees as multiple wildfires blaze across the state. The air is hot and dry, but dropping temperatures and humidity could cause an especially dangerous mix of smoke and fog that would limit visibility, making driving even more hazardous. Under those conditions visibilities could change suddenly from near perfect to near zero.
In January of 2012, fog along Interstate 75 in Florida combined with smoke from a nearby brush fire reduced visibility, causing a massive pile up involving 12 cars and six or seven semi trucks. Ten people died and 18 were injured in this incident.
If fog and smoke is predicted or observed over a large enough area, the National Weather Service will issue a Dense Fog Advisory.
Dense Fog and Smoke Safety Rules
- Drive with lights on low beam.
- Reduce speed allowing for plenty of room between you and other cars.
- Avoid crossing traffic unless absolutely necessary.
- Listen for traffic you cannot see.
- Use wipers and defroster as necessary for maximum vision.
- Be patient! Don’t pass lines of traffic.
- Unless absolutely necessary don’t stop on any freeway or other heavily traveled road.
- If your car is disabled or you can’t continue, pull well onto the shoulder, turn off lights and move away from your vehicle.
- Consider postponing your trip until the fog clears.
- Be especially cautious in and near school zones, watching for flashing yellow or red signals on school buses and watching for children waiting for buses in the fog.
- Be aware that smoke from grass and forest fires along roadways can combine with fog to rapidly drop visibilities to zero.
Oregon Smoke Blog
The Oregon Smoke Blog is a tool for providing the public with current air quality and health information on smoke impacts from wildfires. This blog site includes links to the various agency websites and provides critical information on wildfire status, air quality conditions and forecasts, school and activity closures, burn bans, location of clean air shelters, and travel restrictions due to visibility. The blog is activated by the US Forest Service or DEQ and managed by a team of state, federal, tribal and local agencies. The link to the blog site is http://www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/.