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Volcanic ash may already be in NZ airspace

Invercargill, New Zealand — Ash from an erupting volcano appears to already be in the atmosphere above southern New Zealand tonight reports’s Invercargill reporter Malcolm Gayfer.

Mr Gayfer says an extremely red sunset was visible this evening over Southland describing it as “deep red” and not normal. says ash from the volcano will be spiralling clockwise around Antarctica at a very high altitude.  “Our weather often comes from the south west and in this case the ash cloud on other side of the Pacific Ocean appears to have spiralled around the bottom of the globe and is coming in from the west or south west” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. doubts the ash will be thick enough to cause major problems for New Zealand travellers and believes flights here will be unaffected for the most part. 

NZPA is reporting that MetService will be monitoring the cloud and will advise the airlines should flight plans need to be altered.

Ash may have contributed to this remarkable sunset over Invercargill Saturday evening / Malcolm Gayfer

International and national flight routes could be disrupted for the next week as ash plumes from the CordnCaulle volcano in southern Chile enters New Zealand airspace.

The volcano began erupting on June 4 with the initial ash plume reaching above 50,000ft (15,240m).

The eruption ejected small particles very high into the atmosphere, where strong winds have carried them great distances to the east, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

NZPA reports there was potential for ongoing ash plumes to arrive over southern parts of New Zealand as early as tonight, spreading northwards through the remainder of the weekend.

The plumes were expected to be at cruising levels for both jet and turboprop aircraft (20,000 – 35,000 ft), but at the moment not below 20,000ft, the CAA said.

Given that the volcanic activity was continuing, it was expected that New Zealand airspace might be affected by these plumes for at least a week.

New Zealand has a Volcanic Ash Advisory System that ensured civil aviation operations could be safely carried out near volcanic ash.

The CAA was also communicating with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), to ensure both countries had the latest information available.

The MetService will track the volcanic ash plumes and provide warnings to the aviation industry here and over the wider area – roughly from the Equator to the Pole and mid-Tasman to just west of South America.

At this stage the forecast direction of the volcanic ash plumes might initially have an effect on air traffic routes over the South Island, the Christchurch to Australia routes, and the great circle routes between Australia and New Zealand and South America, the CAA said.

The situation was being closely monitored and other air traffic routes might be affected as volcanic ash forecasts are updated. Based upon information provided by MetService, airlines will adjust their flight routes and altitudes to remain clear of the ash clouds.

Safety of the air operations is the primary goal, and flight disruptions will be minimised as much as possible consistent with this objective.

Air New Zealand has said it did not expect delays or cancellations to its domestic or international services as a result of the ash.

The company said it would adjust flight routes and altitudes as required ensuring planes stayed clear of any ash. and NZPA


Stefan on 12/06/2011 3:38am

The ash is over the Manawatu. I have spotted it around the sun as a white haze

Guest on 12/06/2011 3:17am

Cloud is visible here in Nelson especially to norwest. Aircraft flying Auckland-Christchurch flying relatively low, probably 18000 feet instead of 36000 feet.

Guest on 11/06/2011 10:29pm

When will the ash fall to ground and possibly affect asthmatics?

WW Forecast Team on 12/06/2011 3:24am

Hi there, the ash is passing over us, not raining down on us, so asthmatics can breathe easy.

– WW

Guest on 11/06/2011 9:14pm

Well it’s now over Wellington. We saw it to the north and overhead as the sun came up this morning Sun 12 June 2011. Distinct bands of ash could be seen. When I say distinct I mean if you are really looking hard. My wife could just about make them out.


Guest on 11/06/2011 9:09pm

Well it’s now over Wellington. We saw it to the north and overhead as the sun came up this morning Sun 12 June 2011. Distinct bands of ash could be seen

sw on 11/06/2011 8:46pm

Hopefully it wont ruin the weather for months with endless SW flows (remember pinotubo in 1991-92)

Guest on 11/06/2011 11:08am

So is that ‘spiralling around Antarctica’ a known fact or just a guess? I only ask as most of the light breezes we’ve had here in Invercargill over the last few days have been NNW.

WW Forecast Team on 11/06/2011 11:57am

Hi there, the localised wind over Southland has nothing to do with the overall high altitude winds which are carrying the ash.  You can have a nor’wester in Invercargill but the ash cloud above may be drifting to the north east.  Your local north west wind is blowing at a low altitude and is part of a much bigger weather system that rotates around the South Pole in a clockwise direction (while winds at sea level and over land could be blowing from any direction). 


– WW

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