Originally created 12/17/00

Heavy fog causes several area wrecks



A dueling mix of warm and cold air brewed a clammy fog that had some Augustans driving blind Saturday.

After two days of the miserable conditions - which are common with the outbreak of winter in this region - weather forecasters were expecting the fog to be a memory by today, once a cold front takes over and icy winds push out the humidity.

The cold front was creeping in from Atlanta by nightfall, while a warm front moved north from Macon and Savannah. In eastern Georgia and a fair chunk of South Carolina, earth and sky were saturated with 100 percent humidity, and visibility was at fewer than 100 yards in thick spots, according to the National Weather Service.

Fog problems factored into at least 25 fender benders between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Richmond County's 911 dispatch center reported. Five of the wrecks resulted in minor injuries.

Columbia County dispatchers estimated they handled about eight fog-related crashes during the day.

Most happened near curves and at major intersections, and were chalked up to drivers not paying attention, Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Billy Hambrick said.

"They're not driving like they're in the fog; they're driving like it's clear," Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Billy Hambrick said. "If you can't see where you're going, it's just crazy to keep going at the same speed.

"In these conditions, people need to give themselves more space and drive below the speed limit. And unless it's necessary to be on the road, don't be out there."

Fog seemed to have played a role in the low attendance at the 13th annual Harlem Lions Club Christmas Parade on Saturday afternoon. Spectators could see only flashing lights until the floats and other vehicles drew close at hand.

Before the fog clears, first there would be some seesawing, with temperatures rising into the low 60s, then dropping back into the mid 40s, meteorologist Richard Charnick said.

"It's hard to prepare for this. It feels nice, then a few hours later it won't," Mr. Charnick said.

Tornado watches often come with such tumultuous turnovers, he said.

Today's outlook calls for clearing skies and near-Arctic winds, with temperatures dropping into the low 20s at night. The work week should bring a chance of showers and temperatures steadily rising into the 50s, but nothing to cause another haze, the weather service indicated.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or jedwards92@hotmail.com.