Ash from Chile’s dramatic volcano has entered New Zealand air space, forcing Qantas to cancel some of its South Island flights on Sunday.
Late Saturday night Qantas announced it had cancelled today’s (Sunday) QF45 from Sydney to Christchurch, QF46 (Christchurch-Sydney), QF121 (Sydney-Queenstown) and QF122 (Queenstown-Sydney).
The ash is from the CordónCaulle volcano in southern Chile which erupted on June 4 with initial ash plumes reaching 15,240 metres.
The ash last night produced an extremely red sunset over Invercargill last night.
WeatherWatch.co.nz' said its Invercargill reporter Malcolm Gayfer described the sunset 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.
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.
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.
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