Thick fog blinds drivers

Dense fog that reduced visibility to near zero at times caused numerous accidents in the Wichita metropolitan area Wednesday morning, and weather officials say another round of fog is possible today.

The Kansas Department of Transportation shut down eastbound K-96 at West Street for about two hours Wednesday morning because of several accidents at the I-235 and Broadway interchanges.

At one point late Wednesday morning, the Kansas Highway Patrol was working eight different accidents along a 15-mile stretch of K-96 between West Street and the east city limits of Wichita.

"It was a perfect scenario for dense fog," said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita.

Warm air from the south rode up over ground still cool from last week's heavy snow, Hayes said, helping to draw moisture up from the soil. With no wind to stir the air, clouds formed on the ground.

More than 30 traffic accidents were reported between 5 a.m. and noon in the metropolitan area, according to Sedgwick County Emergency Communications records, and a dispatch supervisor said the majority of them were likely the result of the dense fog.

"It wasn't that many, compared to last week with the snow, but it was still a lot," said Randy Bargdill, director of emergency communications.

None of the accidents resulted in critical injuries, he said.

Visibility was near zero at K-96 and I-235 at about 9 a.m., the National Weather Service reported. At 37th and Maize Road, visibility was 50 yards or less.

The fog began to form Tuesday night, Hayes said, prompting a dense-fog advisory to be issued for the Wichita area by 10 p.m.

On his way home early Wednesday morning, "people were just flying by me" on K-254, Hayes said.

He had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a pickup that pulled out in front of him.

More dense fog is possible again today, but Hayes said he hopes winds will be strong enough to dispel it.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle