A combination of smoke from marsh fires and dense fog created a “super fog” near New Orleans that caused a deadly highway pileup of an estimated 158 vehicles Monday.
At least seven people were killed and 25 injured, Louisiana State Police stated.
The wreckage left piles of cars and trucks on I-55 in St. John the Baptist Parish near New Orleans.
“A portion of the crash scene caught on fire shortly after the initial incident,” leaving many of the vehicles in the pileup scorched, according to a press release from the police.
First responders worked through the night and into Tuesday to find victims and begin clearing the scene.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards thanked the first responders in a statement posted to social media Monday.
“The best way you can help them, besides exercising caution on the road, is to donate blood at your local blood donation center,” Edwards wrote. “It will help replenish supplies that are being drained today to care for the wounded.”
What is a ‘super fog’?
A super fog is “a mixture of smoke and moisture released from damp smoldering organic material such as brush, leaves and trees, mixes with cooler, nearly saturated air,” according to the National Weather Service.
During a super fog, visibility is drastically reduced to less than 10 feet.
How to drive in fog
The National Weather Service New Orleans shared some tips on how to drive in dense fog, including driving with low beam headlights and keeping distance between other cars.
Please take extra caution when travelling tomorrow morning.— NWS New Orleans (@NWSNewOrleans) October 23, 2023
⏰Leave early and give yourself plenty of time to commute
🚗💡 Use your LOW beam headlights
↔️ Keep extra distance between other cars
🅿️ Delay travel until conditions improve if possible pic.twitter.com/xJoYOzORuV
Here are some more safety tips from Weather.gov on how to drive in foggy conditions:
- “Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.”
- “In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.”
- “If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.”