THE blanket of thick fog which experts say was the heaviest seen in Tamworth for 20 years and brought traffic to a crawl yesterday morning is forecast to
Patchy fog is forecast for this morning and Saturday, but yesterday all the talk was about the weather shroud – some claimed to be the worst they’d seen in years – and its persistence.
In most areas the fog did not disperse before 9am, stranding a number of people at both Tamworth and Armidale airports.
Tamworth’s morning flight to Sydney did not get off the ground until four hours after its scheduled 6.30am departure.
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Armidale’s 6.30am flight to Sydney left the runway three-and-a-half hours later, at 9.30am.
Tamworth Regional Airport manager Michael Dubois said the dense fog was “uncharacteristic”.
“This is an incredible fog today .. . one of the worse I have seen in 20 years,” he said.
“We have one of the lowest number of fog-affected days of all NSW regional airports. On average we expect not more than one or two days each winter where fog will put a halt to our operations. In fact, it’s one of the reasons behind Tamworth being chosen as the location for the BAE Systems Flight Training School.”
Australian Medical Association (NSW) president, Associate Professor Brian Owler had his flight delayed from Sydney, forcing the planned 10.30am doorstop media conference at Tamworth hospital to be moved to 12.15pm.
Helen Chaffer missed her connecting flight to Perth and Karen Cox, Vicki Nash and Kerry Barnett were due to fly to Sydney from Tamworth for a meeting that was scheduled at 8.15am.
Armidale Airport reporting officer Fred Noone told The Leader the fog came in thick and fast.
“It was really strange,” Mr Noone said.
“I started the day at 4am and at 5am I checked the runway and it was clear and looked to be a beautiful day but by about 6.15am the fog started to come in.
“The pilot wanted to have another look at the runway so he went for a drive to make sure they had enough site distance and he said it was all good, so we loaded everyone onto the flight, they were ready to taxi out and it just came in and swamped us, so we had to get everyone off.”
Officer-in-charge at the Bureau of Meteorology in Moree, Michael Glasson said the fog covered most of the region.
“Areas of fog occurred in most places including Bendemeer, Tamworth, Moree, Woolbrook,Armidale, Inverell and Glen Innes,” Mr Glasson said.
He said Armidale and Tamworth were the worst affected, with the fog hanging around for most of the morning due to low wind levels.
“It was quite thick and at times visibility was less than 100 metres.”
He said the “radiation fog” was caused by a number of factors including clear skies, light winds, moisture at a low level, a low level temperature inversion and radiation cooling overnight, all of which
generally occurs during a high pressure system.
“We are under the influence of a high pressure system over South Australia and the moisture came from Wednesday’s rainfall event.
“A trough of low pressure moved through our region causing fog, partly due to moisture.”
Mr Glasson said a high pressure system will cause patchy fog and areas of frost for at least the next two to three mornings across the North West Slopes and the Northern Tablelands.
The thick cover also affected those on the land, giving some farmers a late start to the morning.
Bill Wilson told The Leader visibility was terrible at his cattle property near Manilla.
“It was really heavy out here. Our visibility was about 30 to 50 metres max at about 5am, 6am this morning,” Mr Wilson said.
“I have two blokes who come and work here from Manilla and they said visibility in town was about 20 metres.
“One said he couldn’t even see his car which was parked in his backyard.”