Sydney smoke a drag for NZ
AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- The fall-out from the bush fires that have raged in and around Sydney, Australia for the past 12 days has not been confined to the island continent.
Smoke from the devastating fires has drifted the 3,000 kilometers (2,300 miles) east across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, and is affecting visibility in some North Island cities.
New Zealand is called Aotearoa in the native Maori language, which translates as Land of the Long White Cloud.
However, the clouds this past week, have had a distinctly Australian flavor, according to New Zealand weather experts.
On some days visibility in the main city of Auckland has been reduced to 4 kilometers (3 miles), compared with up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) on a normal sunny day, meteorologists say.
"It appeared the air over the North Island originated above New South Wales and contained smoke from the Sydney bush fires," one forecaster told reporters.
The smoke and ash has produced some stunning sunsets for the New Zealanders but dimmed the viewing of stars.
Smoke and ash particles from the fires has also created some spectacular sunset vistas for residents and visitors to Lord Howe Island, which lies about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) north east of Sydney in the Tasman Sea.
Sydney itself continues to be blanketed in a thick layer of smoke as calmer wind conditions ease fire conditions yet this has elevated the pollution level.
At times over the past 12 days visibility in the city has been reduced to less than 100 meters (328 feet) by the smoke, forcing incoming flights to be diverted and doctors to issue health warnings to people with breathing difficulties.
And with more than 80 fires still burning across Sydney's home state of New South Wales and little prospect of rain in the next four days, it seems the glorious sunsets across the Tasman may be around for a few more days yet.
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