I woke up this morning, much earlier than I had hoped (thanks to our rescue Great Dane, who apparently is my self-appointed alarm clock – and still hasn’t figured out I sleep in on the weekends, at least until 7:00AM). I gathered my coffee and my computer and stumbled out on the back patio to discover the Tule Fog had arrived. Our entire backyard is cocooned in a thick, dense fog that smells weirdly like a bathroom, or cow farts.
The Tule Fog is generally makes its presence known in the Central Valley of California sometime in November and can cause havoc all the way through until March. It is usually caused by the higher humidity resulting from the rains that also arrive in November and last, hopefully until March. Between March and November this area receives very little rain. The name Tule comes from the reed – the Tule Reed, found growing in the wetlands in the Valley. And so, you are thinking to yourselves, so what – we get fog here (wherever you happen to live), no big whoop – just deal with it. And I say back to you – this is no normal fog, it is an evil fog.
Because the Tule Fog can appear out of nowhere, it can cause all kinds of mischief – especially when driving. I don’t know if you heard of the enormous traffic pile-up that happened in this area on Highway 99 (which is a deathtrap in the best of the conditions) – but over 100 cars ran into each other, because of the sudden appearance of a fog so dense, so thick and so disorienting that nobody had any sense or warning before they became entangled in the midst of it. I read that the Tule Fog is responsible for more weather-related accidents in the Central Valley than anything else. I believe it!
The Tule Fog is said to be some of the most dangerous fog found anywhere (and that was said by a National Weather Service expert). And I would have to agree with him. This fog appears quickly like a thick wall of moisture out of nowhere. There is no warning. One can be driving along, happily enjoying the winter weather and then suddenly – BAMM – a wall of thick fog appears. This happened to me several winters ago. I was driving the boys home from a movie and the fog descended. I became disoriented, in my own neighborhood, I had no idea where I was. We eventually made it home, after creeping along at about 10 miles per hour, while trying to peer through the fog and identify which street we were passing. It was very unnerving.
I never thought of California as being a place where I would have to deal with a fog so intense, but now I know. I say – respect the Tule Fog, fear the Tule Fog, because it is something to behold.