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Yellow dust storm expected to blanket Korean Peninsula over weekend

Yellow dust storm expected to blanket Korean Peninsula over weekend

Posted May. 06, 2017 08:04,   

Updated May. 06, 2017 08:25


A yellow dust storm, the worst in two years, has emerged in China. A high yellow dust alert was issued in Beijing on Thursday, for the first time this year, and Korea will be affected by the yellow dust storm from Saturday morning to Sunday.

Most regions in northwestern and northern China are being blanketed since Wednesday by thick yellow dust that flew in from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in China. The Chinese state weather agency said more than 40 provinces, cities and districts including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin, and Jilin extending 1.6 million sq. kilometers are being affected by the yellow dust storm. One fifth of the Chinese continent is thus under yellow dust influence.

The air quality index in Beijing hit 500, the highest official reading, on Thursday, while the fine dust (particulate matter 10 or PM10) level soared to reach 1000μg per cubic meters. It is for the first time in more than two years that the PM10 reading has reached 1000μg since April 15, 2015. In Korea, a reading of 151 μg in PM10 is categorized as very bad and a special fine dust alert is issued, with the authorities recommending people to refrain from doing outdoor activities to the extent possible. More than 40 flights were delayed and 15 flights were cancelled at Beijing International Airport due to decreased visibility.

The Korea Meteorological Administration forecasts that as the yellow dust storm will move southward fanned by northwesterly winds, most regions in Korea will see yellow dust influence from daytime Saturday, starting from the Five Islands area in the Yellow Sea from Friday night. A yellow dust storm caused by low atmospheric pressure that developed in Inner Mongolia is set to flow into the Korean Peninsula fanned by strong northwesterly winds. As the fine dust level increases, special fine dust alerts will likely be issued in certain regions on Saturday. With pollen levels having reached the zenith on top of heavy yellow dust hitting the country, patients with respiratory diseases must use extra caution to maintain health, the Korean weather agency said.

Ja-Ryong Koo bonhong@donga.com · Mee-Jee Lee image@donga.com