This past Monday, a massive sandstorm swept through Beijing, the capital city of China, cancelling flights and impacting the health of residents. the city has not seen a sandstorm even close to the magnitude of this one in the past decade. The major city’s roads were choked with traffic while the large buildings and other structures were clouded in a thick layer of dust.
Over 400 flights out of both of the city’s major airports were canceled due to a lack of visibility and high winds, reported The Associated Press. It was confirmed by NBC News that The Beijing Meteorological Observatory told older adults and children to avoid going outside and take cover. They extended this warning to anyone who has any form of respiratory issues. They advised that if any residents needed to leave their houses to wear masks and head covering and immediately wash their faces upon returning to their residence.
Flora Zou, a Beijing resident who works in the fashion industry, told Reuters, “It looks like the end of the world…In this kind of weather I really, really don’t want to be outside.”
“It looks like the end of the world…In this kind of weather I really, really don’t want to be outside.”
“The National Meteorological Center said Monday’s storm had developed in the Gobi Desert in the Inner Mongolia Region, where schools had been advised to close and bus service added to reduce residents’ exposure to the harsh conditions,” according to the Associated Press report.
Sandstorms are not all that uncommon in the area during this time of year, although conditions have improved in recent years. The large deserts to the west blow the wind east which such a force that they sometimes reach all the way to Japan. There have been attempts to help mitigate the frequency and strength of these sandstorms by planting foliage in the area to help break up the intensity of the winds pushing through. Beijing constructed a “great green wall” in order to not only help block the dust before it makes its way in but also create passages where the wind can push through particles at a faster rate, as reported by Reuters.
The National Meteorological Center stated that the dust and sand in the area would continue to impact 12 regions and provinces. The affected areas would reportedly span from the far northwest area of Xinjiang to northeastern Heilongjiang and the eastern city of Tianjin on the coast.
“This is the most intense sandstorm weather our country has seen in 10 years, as well as it covering the broadest area,” -The National Meteorological Center.
China’s growing pollution has been a rising concern as it continues to negatively affect the health of its citizens. A study by the Health Effects Insitute found that pollution in China has caused about 1.4 million premature deaths since just 2019.