Smoke drifting over from Australia turns NZ skies an 'eerie' orange

The sky above Auckland's Sky Tower turned orange yesterday as smoke from Australia's bush fires drifted over to New Zealand. The authorities received a flood of emergency calls from members of the public who were alarmed by the thick orange haze. PHO
The sky above Auckland's Sky Tower turned orange yesterday as smoke from Australia's bush fires drifted over to New Zealand. The authorities received a flood of emergency calls from members of the public who were alarmed by the thick orange haze. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

WELLINGTON • Smoke from Australia's bush fires drifting over to New Zealand caused a flood of emergency calls yesterday as people reported a thick orange haze hovering over Auckland.

In recent days, the smoke had covered much of the South Island, making usually pristine white glaciers appear brown.

It has now moved north and blanketed much of the top half of the North Island, home to around two million people.

As the skies turned "scary", members of the public were urged by police "not to call the 111 emergency number to report the orange haze in the sky caused by the Australian bush fires".

"We are currently receiving high numbers of calls related to this," police said.

Scientists say the reddish colour is caused by the smoke making blue light less visible.

Social media was filled with photos and videos of the orange haze as one woman, identified as Namita, described the scene on Twitter as "eerie and scary".

Forecaster WeatherWatch.co.nz said the sky changed dramatically in the early afternoon.

"The skies, which were already fairly overcast, turned a dramatic orange and darkened significantly," WeatherWatch said.

"The gloomy weather is likely to continue for the rest of Sunday with this next main plume moving through and thickening over Sunday afternoon."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Smoke drifting over from Australia turns NZ skies an 'eerie' orange'. Print Edition | Subscribe