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Published: 05 March 2022

By Andy Ross

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The Barber

The Katabatic wind in Cobden with houses in front of it The Katabatic wind in Cobden with houses in front of itA katabatic wind is responsible for a phenomenon that is only seen in a few places in the world. 

When a dense, moist wind flows down a slope and is subject to cooling, the moisture in it condenses and becomes fog and it is this that can be seen at certain times of the year in Greymouth. It is an incredible sight because the town itself is not really affected. The fog flows along the river and far out to sea, and also across the hills and mountains alongside so it is possible to be enveloped in a thick cloud on the bridge that joins Greymouth to the suburb of Cobden across the river and two minutes later to be in the brilliant sunshine in town. 

This week we experienced our first Barber. (It is called that because the wind is cuttingly chilly.) Our home is sandwiched between the river and a hill in Cobden and the cloud fills up the valley behind the hill and then flows over the top, evaporating as it gets lower on the slopes. Here are some pictures of what the wind looked like on Saturday morning.  

If you would like to read more about this amazing natural phenomenon, follow this link. To experience the sound of the wind you can listen to 2 hours of it on YouTube, and you can also watch a documentary here about the same type of wind, this time in Antarctica.