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Super fog returns to La. interstate causing fatal crash, traffic shutdown

Fog similar to what contributed to the deadly Oct. pileup led to another crash

Louisiana-Super Fog Crashes

Traffic is at a standstill as a mixture of smoke and fog, known as “super fog” closed Interstate 10 in Louisiana on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. New Orleans police say a stretch of the interstate is closed Tuesday due to the smoke, fog and vehicle crashes. The closure is reminiscent of a super fog event on October 23, when seven people died and about two dozen were injured in pileups involving about 160 vehicles on Interstate 55. (WVUE via AP)

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Dense smoke reminiscent of last month’s “super fog” that rolled into Louisiana has led to a deadly crash that shut down Interstate 10 in the New Orleans area early Tuesday, police said.

The thoroughfare was closed due to smoke, fog and accidents involving multiple vehicles, New Orleans police said after the accident around 4:30 a.m. By late afternoon, all of the interstate’s eastbound lanes were reopened and the westbound lanes were partially opened as crews continued clearing the road, police said.

In video from motorists, cars next to them disappear in the thick smoke. Sarah Trimble said she couldn’t see the tail lights of the truck in front of her as she crossed railroad tracks on her way to work. In another video filmed by Connie Fiorella, smoke envelopes cars around her while the car just ahead of her nearly disappears from view except for the outline of its brake lights.

Smoke from fires near New Orleans is getting trapped under a very shallow layer of the atmosphere near the ground along Interstate 10 in eastern Orleans Parish, the National Weather Service said. As a result, motorists could see a quarter-mile (400 meters) or less, the weather service said.

“All that smoke has got nowhere to go,” said Christopher Bannan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service near New Orleans.

In some areas of the smoke, people can look straight up and see a clear sky in the daytime or stars at night, Bannan said. But if they look horizontally, they can’t see ahead of them, he said.

The weather service issued a dense smoke advisory. The thick smoke also reduced visibility along Interstate 55 in Louisiana, the weather service said.

Few details were available about the motorist who died Tuesday. Police said it was a man who died after being taken to a hospital.

On Oct. 23, seven motorists died and about two dozen were injured in pileups involving about 160 vehicles on I-55 near New Orleans amid a super fog, which is created by smoke from marsh fires mixing with dense fog.

Last month’s wrecks have raised awareness in the area, “and it’s on everyone’s mind so they may be taking more precautions,” Bannan said.

RELATED: Video: 7 dead, 25 injured in 150-plus vehicle pileup on La. highway bridge