Fog affects flights, shipping in Timaru

Fog blanketed Timaru on Wednesday morning, delaying flights and shipping movements.

Fog blanketed Timaru on Wednesday morning, delaying flights and shipping movements.

Fog has impacted Timaru flights and shipping movements for the second time in three days.

One Wednesday morning flight from Timaru to Wellington was cancelled and another delayed, while two ships leaving the Port of Timaru were also forced to delay their departures.

This comes after a tanker was delayed entering the port, and a flight was delayed, due to similar weather conditions on Monday. 

Wednesday's 6.50am flight from Timaru's Richard Pearse Airport was cancelled, and the 11.30am flight held up. It eventually departed at 2.15pm. Passengers intending to board the 6.50 flight were bussed to Christchurch, where they faced further delays.

Cargo vessel Chamsy, which was due to leave the Port of Timaru at 2am, delayed its departure by nine hours, while fuel tanker Matuku, already delayed entering port on Monday, was delayed for seven hours, departing at 1pm instead of the scheduled 6am.

PrimePort pilot and acting marine manager Thejs Pedersen said fog was common at this time of year.

"What is uncommon is the fog staying a little bit longer."

The fog is part of a continuous trend of wet weather this autumn, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

Niwa reported that rainfall in Timaru for April was more than 200 per cent of the annual average. Total rainfall recorded at its Timaru weather station was 113.8mm, against its yearly average of 42mm.

Niwa climate scientist Nawa Faedeff said the wet weather was a result of South Canterbury feeling the effects of ex-tropical cyclones Debbie and Cook. It was also in complete contrast to last year, which saw a dry April with only 18.6mm of rain recorded.

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Faedeff said the current foggy weather was in line with typical weather patterns for May. She added that exceptionally wet weather in April was probably responsible for a shift back to normal weather patterns. 

Several local industries have also felt the impact of the weather. Firewood suppliers, energy providers, and grain farmers were all affected by the wet weather in April. 

Anna Clearwater, who co-manages Clearwater Firewood in Geraldine with husband Ronald, said the weather had been positive for her business.

"We ran out of dry wood earlier this year. The cold weather came early; it was very sporadic so we sold out a lot earlier." 

Energy Online, which supplies energy to numerous businesses and residences in the region, said while increased energy usage had resulted in more revenue for the company, instances of wild weather had resulted in damage to power cables and supply lines, meaning expensive callouts for the company. 

Grain farming appears to be one of the industries worst affected by a wet autumn.

"The rains and the cold weather have definitely affected us. It has delayed the planting of our current crops. It has affected the end of our harvest as well as the start of our sowing. It is going to be difficult for a lot of farmers to overcome" said Mike Porter, Federated Farmers grains section chairman for South Canterbury.


 - The Timaru Herald


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