Cars drive on a road past the shopping and residential area of Sanlitun on a heavy sandstorm day, in Beijing, China, 15 March 2021. EFE-EPA FILE/ROMAN PILIPEY

Yellow smog envelops Beijing amid severe sandstorms in northern China

Beijing, Apr 11 (EFE).- Beijing woke up on Tuesday cloaked in a yellow smog with a concentration of PM10 particles in the air of more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in the center of the city and that of PM2.5 particles  – considered the the most dangerous due to their small diameter – of over 500.

A view shows the skyline affected by a sandstorm, in Beijing, China, 15 March 2021. EFE-EPA FILE/WU HONG

Severe sandstorms swept across Beijing and several other parts of northern China in recent hours, raising air quality indices to over 1,100 points, a level considered extremely dangerous.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued blue and yellow level alerts – the first two of a four-tier color-coded weather warning system for sandstorms with red representing the most severe – and warned that floating dust and sand will affect more than a dozen northern provinces.

The storms originated in Mongolia and moved in a southeasterly direction late Monday, entering China through the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to the agency.

The capital, where a blue alert was upgraded to yellow and winds are expected to persist until Tuesday afternoon, has been hit by five sandstorms so far this year, three of them in March.

Beijing’s tourism authorities called for the closure of the city’s main attractions and outdoor entertainment spaces for safety reasons, the official Global Times newspaper reported.

Meteorologist Zhang Mingying attributed the weather phenomena to less rain and snow in northern China during winter and spring, which has led to a severe drought, making it easier for dust emissions in sand source areas, Global Times said.

Zhang predicted that conditions will improve from late April or early May with an increase in rainfall.

The NMC estimates that the number of sandstorms that occurred in 2023 in the north of the country is the highest in the last decade, although the levels of suspended particles are similar to those registered in previous years. EFE