'Super fog' multi-car collision on a Louisiana highway results in 7 fatalities and 25 injuries, according to police.
‘Super fog’ multi-car collision on a Louisiana highway results in 7 fatalities and 25 injuries, according to police.

Police in Louisiana claim that a “super fog” that drastically reduced visibility caused a multi-car pileup on Interstate 55 close to New Orleans.

According to Louisiana State Police, the incident, which included at least 158 automobiles, happened on Monday morning as a result of dense fog. Near New Orleans, a lengthy section of Interstate 55, a 24-mile-long roadway that crosses Lake Pontchartrain, is anticipated to be blocked “for the foreseeable future,” according to authorities.

According to officials, the collision also caused Interstates 10 and 310 to be blocked. In a statement on Monday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards acknowledged the mishap. According to Louisiana State Police, seven deaths have been verified, and more than 25 others have been taken to local hospitals with injuries ranging from critical to minor.

Once the disaster site has been thoroughly cleaned up, more deaths could be discovered, according to authorities.

According to state police, emergency workers worked for hours to clean debris from both the northbound and southbound lanes following the collision. Soon after the original event, a piece of the I-55 collision site caught fire, according to officials.

Super fog was brought on by a combination of thick fog that developed early on Monday morning and smoke from marsh fires burning in the area, resulting in exceptionally limited visibility. Visibility was almost nonexistent in several places, making for hazardous driving conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, super fogs often develop when condensed water vapor interacts with wet organic material burning from a nearby fire, such as brush, leaves, and trees, to release moisture and smoke. This may reduce visibility to less than 10 feet, according to the NWS.

Forecasts reveal that this has been happening in the area for the previous several mornings, with the position of the densest fog and most hazardous circumstances changing day by day.

Superfogs are particularly hazardous when they form over or close to roadways. Due to the confined character of the weather phenomena, visibility conditions may quickly deteriorate over very short distances, which can create a dangerous situation if there is a sudden drop in visibility to almost nil while cars are moving quickly on a roadway.

The driver’s ability to respond to changing road conditions is therefore hampered by the very poor vision.

Multi-car crash on I-55 in St. John the Baptist Parish in La., Oct. 23, 2023.
© Casey Tusa
Multi-car crash on I-55 in St. John the Baptist Parish in La., Oct. 23, 2023. © Casey Tusa

On Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued a thick fog advisory for a large portion of southern Louisiana, including the area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The National Weather Service has been issuing warnings for the previous several days about the possibility of early morning thick fog in the area, which would be made worse in certain locations by surrounding marsh fires. In cases when they can’t see at least 500 feet in front of them, state police encouraged drivers to utilize their low-beam headlights.

By the middle of Monday morning, the fog had cleared, and all fog alarms had been discontinued.

Fog is not anticipated to be a significant problem Monday night since weather conditions won’t be ideal for fog creation. However, patches of smoke will still be likely in the region as many marsh fires continue to burn.

Morning fog is not unusual for the area at this time of year, but more than 86% of the state is now experiencing exceptional dryness, which is increasing the risk of a wildfire. As lower temperatures set in yet the danger of dryness and wildfire persists, this might imply additional occurrences of super fog in the next days and weeks.

Louisiana is still being affected by terrible drought and wildfire conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 60% of the state is now considered to be in severe drought, the most serious category of concern. 0% of the state was classified as experiencing an extreme drought only three months ago.

Multi-car crash on I-55 in St. John the Baptist Parish in La., Oct. 23, 2023.
© Casey Tusa
Multi-car crash on I-55 in St. John the Baptist Parish in La., Oct. 23, 2023. © Casey Tusa

“The combination of wildfire smoke and dense fog is dangerous, and I want to encourage all Louisianans in affected areas to take extreme caution when traveling,” Edwards stated in a press release.

According to state police, state troopers are trying to contact relatives and look into the precise reason for the collision.

Louisiana State Police received inquiries from the media on behalf of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office.

There was no quick way to get further details. When ABC News contacted Louisiana State Police for comment, they did not respond right away.

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