China issues yellow alert for sandstorms in its north

China’s national observatory on Monday issued a yellow alert for sandstorms in the northern part of the country.

Starting from Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday, affected by cold fronts and heavy winds, floating sand and dust are expected to sweep parts of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) predicted.

Some regions in Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Shanxi will be hit by strong sandstorms, the center said.

The center has advised the public to take precautions against the heavy winds and sandstorms, and suggested that drivers prepare for poor visibility.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system for sandstorms with red representing the most severe, followed by orange, yellow, and blue.

On Monday morning, Beijing was enveloped by yellow dust, reducing visibility to less than 1 km, with the concentration of hazardous airborne particles of PM10 in most areas exceeding 2,000 micrograms per cubic meter, according to local data.

The NMC report showed that the sandstorm blew in from north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region due to the effect of cyclones and strong winds. It arrived in Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing, on Sunday night before moving toward the Chinese capital.

“The dust will not become the norm in the future,” said Zhang Bihui, an official with the China Meteorological Administration, noting that national afforestation projects have led to a steady decline in sandy weather.

The dust is expected to be gradually settled and cleared from Wednesday to Thursday due to the upcoming cold front and precipitation, said the NMC.