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 WeatherWatch.co.nz'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.

WeatherWatch.co.nz 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.

WeatherWatch.co.nz 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.

- WeatherWatch.co.nz and NZPA


Ash cloud.

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


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

When will the ash fall to

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

Hi there, the ash is passing

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

- WW

Well it's now over

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.


Well it's now over

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

Hopefully it wont ruin the

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

So is that 'spiralling around

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.

Hi there, the localised wind

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

Red Sunset

Last nights massive solar flare something to do with that?

Volcanic Ash

HI Phil and team

Just wondering - out here in Army Bay just on dusk we saw the strangest cloud formation appear. It was like this huge half circle of cloud band approaching from the east - heading north horizon to south horizon, covering from the east horizon to mid way down Army Bay and had like bulbous parts to it. Would this have been volcanic cloud? Also what will volcanic ash cloud do to our asthmatics? Cheers for your thoughts and thanks for all the hard work you do once again.


you were just looking at the

you were just looking at the jet stream cloud sheet drapped just off the north of the NI
lit up by the setting sun (a cloud sheet like that often has mama clouds on the underside)
nothing to be alarmed about all normal

Hi Sue - no that wouldn't

Hi Sue - no that wouldn't have been the ash cloud.  Here in New Zealand the ash will be so diluted it will be very hard to see.  It may make the sky slightly less blue during the day - a paler colour, less vibrant - but you won't see any actual cloud from it.  Night time it may remove a few of the fainter stars and sunrise and sunset may be deeper in colour.  It's more of a high altitude haze if anything.  The ash isn't expected at ground level so asthmatics should be able to breathe easy :)  Most people won't even be aware it's in our atmosphere we suspect.

- WeatherWatch Weekends