RNZ, January 5, 2020
Parts of the North Island may be hazy today, as a strong northwest wind brings smoke from Australia.
Smoke from the fires currently raging in several states of Australia covered parts of the South Island on New Year’s Day, including Fox Glacier which received a dusting of ash.
Some residents described a smell like “extinguished campfires.”
The following day the smoke also affected skies in the North Island.
A MetService forecaster, Sonja Farmer, said today’s smoke won’t be as thick as previous plumes.
“This time it is fairly fast-moving in comparison, followed by south-westerlies coming in behind as the front goes through. So, there will be some smoke around but it may not be around for too long because the other wind is coming behind.
“The other south-west flow will start diverting it back into the Tasman.”
By mid-morning, MetService tweeted that the smoke was “making haste across the Tasman, driven by an upper level jet of westerly winds”.
NIWA said the densest portion of the smoke will move over the North Island.
Asthma sufferers cautioned
Asthmatic New Zealanders concerned about the impact of smoke coming from the Australian fires are being told to check their inhalers and see their GP.
Asthma New Zealand has seen a spike in inquires around the safety of smoke and what it means for breathing as the Australian fires continue to bring plumes of smoke to this country.
Chief executive Letitia Harding said that she has not had any reports of people suffering from the smoke but said it is an opportunity to top up inhalers and be prepared.
“To check that their inhalers are full and not empty and also they’re not expired. And just to be really aware of any tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. Any smokier conditions will exacerbate symptoms,” Harding said.
Strong winds spreading
MetService is expecting west to southwest gales gusting to 120 km/h to buffet Southland, Clutha and Stewart Island today.
The winds are already being felt in parts of the South Island, it says, and will affect inland parts of Canterbury and exposed parts of the North island’s east coast south of Hastings later today.
Strong winds battering parts of the country today, have the potential to damage trees, powerlines and make driving hazardous.
MetService says a deep low lies to the south of the country and it is moving north across southern and central New Zealand.
The strongest winds are likely to affect coastal Southland, Clutha and Dunedin tomorrow, with unseasonably cold severe southwest gales expected.
Blustery in North
Meteorologist David Miller said it would also be blustery further north.
“Lower parts of the North Island including Tararua district, Hawke’s Bay south of Napier, Wellington, Wairarapa. We’re expecting to see some gales up to 120 km/h, that’s until tonight.”
Miller said it would be dangerous on the roads in many areas for motorcyclists and high-sided vehicles over the next few days.
Temperatures are expected to be much cooler than usual for this time of year today with Dunedin, Queenstown and Timaru reaching just 11 degrees Celsius.
Indian Newslink Note: The sky on the East Auckland horizon is extremely hazy as this story was being posted. It looks like dusk now.