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Advising Caution for Ash Cloud Fine Particles

Advising Caution for Ash Cloud Fine Particles

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group advises caution to local people, in spite of current clear skies.

A brief eruption late last night on Mt Tongariro has resulted in a sizable fine ash cloud dispersing across Hawke’s Bay, and particularly in the north-west of the region. A layer of ash approximately 1mm in depth has come to ground inland from Napier and north-east into the Wairoa area. There is a noticeable sulphuric smell in the air around Napier-Hastings, advised by Taradale and Havelock North people.

Air quality reporting also shows increased levels of PM10 particulate matter readings at all three air monitoring stations in Awatoto, Marewa Park (Napier) and St Johns (Hastings).

Hawke’s Bay CDEM Group Controller Ian Macdonald asks schools, childcare centres and businesses to use their common sense, given the current clear skies. Unless ash is falling, it is safe to be outside.

“People with respiratory issues should be aware of the situation and may choose to stay inside,” said Mr Macdonald. “And where ash is visibly falling, people should remain indoors.”

HBCDEM Group has been in contact with Unison, other lifelines organisations and HB DHB, coordinating a potential response, particularly if the situation with Mt Tongariro deteriorates. It is not known if the single brief eruption will be the only event, and it is possible that other eruptions may follow.

Power supply should not be affected, unless a significant ash fall occurs. However, HBCDEM Group asks people to be prepared, particularly in the event of power outages.


Flights are currently suspended at Hawke’s Bay airport, and people should check with their airline to confirm travel plans.

State Highway 5, the Napier-Taupo road, is open, but people should check the NZTA or AA RoadWatch sites prior to any travel. Only those that need to travel using SH 5 should do so. Ash will scratch car windscreens if wipers are used. Wash off using clean water.

A further update will be issued before 5pm today.

Ash Fall Guidance

Disconnect your downpipe from water tanks, gully traps and gutters to prevent blockages and allow ash to empty on to the ground. It will also help protect your water supply if you rely on rainwater. When the ash has cleared, hose off your roof before reconnecting pipes.

Anyone caught in an ashfall should wear a dust mask designed to protect lungs from small particles. If no mask is available, use a damp handkerchief or cloth to cover your nose and mouth. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles or glasses – remove contact lenses. Seek shelter in a building or vehicle. Wash ash off your skin as soon as possible as it may cause irritation.

Water contaminated by ash will usually become unpalatable before it presents a health risk. Wait for the ash to settle and use the clear water.

© Scoop Media

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