Dipped, not park lights as morning fog persists

by Kim Bowden - Jul 11, 2024

Thick fog for consecutive mornings in parts of Central Otago has prompted a safety reminder from the district council.

The Central Otago District Council's road safety advisor Chris 'Foggie' Foggin says motorists should all be driving with headlights on in foggy conditions.

It is "really important if you're in a white vehicle, which tend to blend in with the fog", he says in a post shared on social media.

The instruction: When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is backing up calls for those behind the wheel to change their driving behaviours to respond to winter conditions, particularly during the school holidays with many people travelling on unfamiliar roads.

NZTA Otago and Southland journey manager Nicole Felts' advice is to "drive to the conditions to make it a memorable holiday for the right reasons".

She warns that in places where "fog gathers" surfaces can stay "greasy" for much of the day.

"Slowing down and anticipating slippery surfaces on bridge decks, corners and areas that miss out on the sun in winter are habits all drivers need to practise," she says.

Earlier this week, the highway over the Haast Pass was closed overnight after multiple vehicles slid on icy roads.

Central Otago and Southern Lakes residents have also been starting their days this week in sub-zero temperatures.

Ms Felts says ensuring windscreens are clear should be another priority for motorists.

"Particularly in situations where there can be sunstrike.”

She also wants people to "build in patience" to travel times.

"Give other drivers a bit more space and keep the stress on the highways to a minimum.”

Both the Central Otago District Council and the Queenstown Lakes District Council are issuing winter road reports in the mornings - with information on specific spots across the districts' roading networks considered dicey that day - and these are available on the councils' Facebook pages.

The Queenstown Lakes' report writing team makes an effort to dish up some fun facts and online laughs with their daily dose of roading intel too.

Today's gem: 'Did you know there are only 14 mountains on Earth whose peaks are over 8,000 metres high, and you’ll find 10 of these mighty mountains in the Himalayas. Makes sense that the ancient Indian Sanskrit name Himalaya translates to ‘home of snow’.'

Meanwhile police are reporting seeing some "horrendous" speeds on local roads, including one driver caught going almost double the speed limit.

Southern District road policing manager Inspector Craig Brown says it is disappointing and dangerous, with some of the worst offending is happening on roads surround Cromwell and Queenstown.

NIWA weather forecasters are warning foggy and freezing conditions for some spots in Central Otago may last all day Thursday.

It is being attributed to "the strongest high pressure system on the planet" being over New Zealand right now.

"This week, a new national mean sea level pressure record for the month of July has been set, reaching 1045 hPa (hectopascals).

"Air pressure is the force exerted by the weight of air above a given point on the earth's surface. It decreases with altitude and varies with weather conditions. 

"In a high-pressure system, air descends and spreads outward, typically leading to clear skies, calm conditions, and stable weather. While there is certainly a lack precipitation, some folks may be awakening to foggy and/or frosty conditions.

"In parts of Central Otago like Alexandra and Clyde, a phenomenon called an inversion may cause the fog and freezing temperatures to last all day."

Read more: Cromwell, Queenstown drivers make police naughty list

Main image: Heavy fog cloaks Cromwell at 8.30am, Thursday, July 2024.

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