Fog causes travel chaos at airports

Last updated 08:37 19/12/2012

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LATEST: The New Plymouth airport is open today after being closed yesterday because of fog.

"Everything is alright at the moment," Manager Kevin Hill said.

"We had empty planes come in this morning to take people out and we've just had one arrive from Wellington."

There was still fog at the airport but it was moving fast, Mr Hill said.

"If we put the planes in a holding pattern the fog is moving away quite quickly and they are able to land."

Yesterday sea fog caused travels chaos around the country with the New Plymouth airport closing because about 8am and the Wellington airport.

Mr Hill said two planes left and one arrived from Auckland before travel stopped.

"December is always our worst month for sea fog. Up to Tuesday we have lost 21 flights," he said.

Auckland flights were diverted to Whanganui with passengers then bused to New Plymouth. Buses also left New Plymouth for Auckland.

Fog also closed Wellington airport yesterday with 40 flights in and out of the city cancelled. One of those caught up at that end was Black Ferns rugby player Kendra Cocksedge, who was returning home to Okato for Christmas. "You can't really do much about it."

With no flight to New Plymouth she was offered one to Whanganui instead and was picked up from there.

The fog and cloud, caused by warm northerly air mixing with damper air, is forecast to be replaced with rain and westerly winds in New Plymouth today. Wet weather is then predicted for eight of the next 10 days. Luckily one of the dry ones will be Christmas Day.

Yesterday's MetService long range forecast was for a dry, sunny day with northwesterly winds and a high of 24 degrees on December 25.

Identical weather was initially forecast for Christmas Eve but last night that had changed to rain and northwesterlies, the same as predicted for Boxing Day.

Taranaki has been spoilt for weather on Christmas Day for the past three years. Almost identical weather maps have been printed in the Taranaki Daily News on Christmas Eves in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Those maps showed a high of 20 degrees and low of 13 degrees, with fine weather and light winds on Christmas day 2009 and 2011.

With an even warmer Christmas predicted this year, a dip at the beach might be in order and the MetService is tipping a refreshing 18 degrees.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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