Xenon headlights and snow/fog

I’d like to get xenon headlights in a car soon and I have a concern. I had a van once with yellow foglights that were great in a snowstorm because the yellow light didn’t bounce back from the white falling snow. I used to drive with just the fogs on and I coulds see right through the snow. Since xenon headlights are “whiter” than regular (cheap) headlights, are they worse to drive with in snow and fog ??

If white is a combination of all colors in the visible spectrum;

And if snow is white because it reflects all colors in the visible spectrum;

And if yellow is a color of the visible spectrum;

Then snow reflects yellow light.

Corollary: Yellow light does not pass through snow and illuminate objects beyond the snow any more than white light does.

At least, this is what I would think would be theoretically true. Is yellow a magical ‘pass through snow’ color? Do yellow lights really give more visibility in snow as measured objectively by instruments than subjectively by human observation?

Does yellow really work or is it an optical illusion or self-delusion? Is the Green Lantern’s ring trully ineffective against yellow?


      • Yellow lights are supposed to be better in the snow, but I’ve never experienced the effect firsthand so I can’t say much myself. I don’t now that mounting them high or low makes any difference. Foglights do work well, but only if they’re mounted low on the vehicle and only durng periods of fog, not rain. Manufacturers tend to put them in the wrong places; fog lights should be mounted low on the front air dam (where they easily get damaged); driving lights should be mounted on the rooftop, far enough back that they don’t illuminate the hood (but putting them on the rooftop violates many state and local vehicle lighting regulations). Oh well.
      • The reason behind Xenon headlights had to do with the spectrum of light they give off, is reflected better by a common class of dyes that are used (or will be used) for signs and road stripes. Get it? - Signs and roadway stripes will reflect brighter when viewed with Xenon headlights. (if they don’t already) ??? I am thinking of the new “blue” headlights you see on newer cars, sodium vapor me thinks - MC

I swear the yellow light cut through the snow better but they were mounted low and lit the road instead of the falling snow. If you’ve ever hit the high beams in a blizzard you get the idea of how much light reflects back. Sodium vapor lights are yellow in color and can really mess with your color perception.

After driving in England, with it’s well famed fog, I found fog lights to be effective. I think you’ll find it’s not so much the color as it is the shape of the lens; fog light beams have a distinctive cut-off in the upper half of the beam. This undercuts the fog/snow, lighting the road but not reflecting off the droplets/flakes higher up in your visual range. Also, yellow light has been found to increase contrast, which also makes yellow shooting/driving glasses great for both night and cloudy day driving, also discovered in England! Good luck in your search for good lights. Try Bosch.

I seem to recall that yellower lights are better in fog, specifically because the way fog reflects/absorbs light makes it appear bluish. Yellow light cuts through the blue. Also, low lights (lights pointed downwards) work better than high ones.

In other words, I believe that a bluer light would give less visibility in foggy conditions. And presumably snowy ones, since the way we perceive snow is a bluish kind of white.

But I thought that fog lamps were an extra, in addition to your regular headlights. Cant you have xenon headlights and foglamps too?

In a related note, I find bright xenon headlights horribly distracting as a fellow driver.