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Letters to the Editor: Here’s how I survived driving in Central Valley tule fog. Don’t try it

Tule fog in the Central Valley
Satellite imagery shows California’s Central Valley shrouded in tule fog, a frequent occurrence during the winter.
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Your Column One on Central California’s tule fog took me back to a crazy night during the early days of my radio career in the Tulare County town of Porterville. My roommate and I worked the late shift and were charged with shutting KTIP Radio down at midnight before we headed home.

That night we walked out to the parking lot, we literally couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. Interestingly, if we jumped in the air, there was no fog above our heads, so that’s how we made our way to my car. Driving would be another story.

My roommate was wise in the ways of tule fog, so he knew what to do. He sat on the passenger side window frame with his feet on the seat so that he, above the fog, could guide me vocally down the six blocks from the station to our apartment. We drove right down the middle of the empty street that night very slowly.

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On another occasion, I called the state community college football championship game in Bakersfield as the tule fog came in. From the press box, all I could see were the tops of players’ helmets bobbing up and down. I ended up calling the game from the field into a cassette recorder — an experience that came in handy when I later called the “fog bowl” for USC and Oregon State in 2004, also from the field.

Reporter Diana Marcum isn’t kidding when she says that the number one rule of driving in that stuff is: Don’t. I wouldn’t recommend anyone following in my tire tracks.

Pete Arbogast, Venice Beach

The writer is the radio play-by-play caller for USC football.

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To the editor: Thanks to Marcum and illustrator Paul Duginski for bringing back memories of the impenetrable fog that swathed my hometown of Bakersfield throughout my childhood winters.

Beautiful, yes; treacherous, of course.

But also for my sister, friends and I, tule fog was a kind of benevolent spirit that bestowed delicious hours of sleeping in when those magical words “fog delay” sang from our parents’ a.m. radios.

Too thick for a school bus or parental vehicle to navigate, tule fog kept our schools shuttered and our grateful selves in our warm beds until at least 10 a.m., when the misty shroud lifted and the roads cleared.

Teddi Chichester, South Pasadena

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To the editor: Marcum’s article brought back many nostalgic memories of growing up in the Central Valley. She hit many of the highlights, but missed an important one for all kids — the two-hour school delay.

These were announced over the radio and were a school bus safety measure and would delay the start of classes until the fog lifted around midmorning. These were my favorite mornings.

Lisa Stenderup, Los Angeles

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