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What Causes Dangerous Tule Fog in California’s Central Valley, and Why Is It Becoming Less Common?



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Opaque tule fog, a staple of winter in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, is the bane of motorists because it can reduce visibility to zero and cause massive freeway pileups.
But it is also beloved by growers of crops such as almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches and pistachios because it helps the trees to satisfy the dormancy requirement necessary to produce flowers and fruit. The trees need this rest period to produce high yields during the growing season.
And in the dry Central Valley, it’s a natural part of the ecology.
Love it or hate it, a study a few years ago by researchers at UC Berkeley found that the trend is for less and less of the pea-soup fog.
Tule fog is thought to arise from wetlands full of tules, Schoenoplectus acutus, a reed or rush common to marshes in California.
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