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Heavy fog blamed for accidents, ferry delays on Whidbey Island

Oak Harbor resident David Lura walks through the fog near the high school Thursday while picking up litter along the road. Fog is expected to persist through the weekend.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor resident David Lura walks through the fog near the high school Thursday while picking up litter along the road. Fog is expected to persist through the weekend.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

The blanket of fog that persisted over Whidbey Island this week was a factor in car accidents, reduced operations at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, delayed ferries and it affected sporting events.

When it’s foggy, Washington State Trooper Mark Francis encourages motorists to reduce speed and increase following distance while driving during foggy conditions.

He said heavy fog was a factor in a Whatcom County accident Oct. 22 that killed two people on State Highway 548.

In that incident, a motorist attempted to pass a slow moving vehicle and was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Troopers are also dealing with a lot of minor accidents too.

“We’ve been having a lot of fender benders as well,” Francis said.

He said people should avoid using high beams in the fog and he recommended people should be patient and avoid passing someone while driving when visibility is low.

The National Weather Service is forecasting that the foggy conditions on Whidbey Island will continue through the weekend with sunny days returning early next week.

The persistent fog draping Western Washington is caused by a a temperature inversion where warm, dry air at higher elevations is trapping moist cool air near the surface, according to information from the National Weather Service.

During the longer nights and light breezes at the surface, colder air and its moisture settles at the surface.

The Weather Service reports that freezing levels are near 13,000 feet and the temperatures in the mountains reached the 60s with a lot of sunshine while the foggy interior is struggling to rise into the 50s.

The constant fog impacted ferry runs and operations at NAS Whidbey.

A dozen sailings on the Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry route were canceled during from Oct. 16-23 because of fog.

On Thursday, the ferry Cathlamet had a close call with a small vessel with the captain notifying passengers to brace for impact. Radar detected the vessel and contact was avoided, a ferry spokesperson said.

Some flights at NAS Whidbey were canceled or delayed.

“We’re not able to exercise the full flight schedule,” said Tony Popp, spokesman at NAS Whidbey.

 

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