Chinese capital blasted by another dust storm

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The third dust storm in about five weeks shrouded China’s capital city in a yellow haze and caused air quality to deteriorate once again.

Strong winds whipped sand and dust from the Gobi Desert, located in southern Mongolia and northern China, into Beijing around 4:30 p.m., local time Thursday following a brief thunderstorm.

At one point, the city skyline was transformed from a murky yellow to an apocalyptic orange.

The waves of blowing dust caused visibility to drop between 1.8 and 3.0 miles (2.8 and 4.8 km) into Thursday evening, local time.

Buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) are seen shrouded in sand and dust amid a duststorm in Beijing, China, on April 15, 2021. Picture taken through a window. (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)

“I don’t feel good,” Gary Zi, a 48-year-old Beijing resident working in the finance sector, told The Guardian while pointing out that several dust storms have blasted the city this year.

“The (air) quality is much worse than in previous years,” he added during the interview. “Breathing becomes difficult. Sand gets into your eyes and your nose.”

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The amount of sand in the air is said to be less than the two sandstorms in March according to the Chinese meteorological administration; however, the wind speed with this storm higher, which allowed the sand and dust to travel over a larger area, the Guardian reported.

During the height of the dust storm, wind gusts up to 45 mph (72 km/h) were recorded. Winds continued to gust as high as 40 mph (64 km/h) Thursday night.

Pedestrians stand on an overpass above car traffic amid a duststorm in Beijing, China April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

According to Plume Labs, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing reached as high as 467. When this number reaches 100 or higher, the area is considered to have very high pollution.

The main pollutants were P10, which are particles small enough to reach deep into the lungs, and P2.5, particles that are small enough to pass into the bloodstream. Particulate matter is considered the most dangerous pollution to human health and can cause a variety of illnesses, said Plume Labs, a partner company that provides AccuWeather with data on air quality around the world.

The cloud of dust continued to spread east across northeastern China and the Korean Peninsula on Friday.

This satellite image of eastern Asia from Friday night, local time, shows the dust (yellow) over northeastern China and North Korea. (CIRA RAMMB)

A team of experts from China’s forestry and meteorological authorities arrived in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as the third dust storm arrived in Beijing, according to the Global Times. The team will conduct field research on the contributing factors for this year’s frequent sandstorms across northern China.

The dust storm that occurred in the middle of March was the deadliest of the three so far this year. At least 10 deaths occurred in Mongolia and hundreds of people became disoriented trying to locate cattle that had gone missing.

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