Rare winter sandstorm hits Beijing, China

sandstorm over china december 12 2022 f

A rare winter sandstorm swept over northern China on Monday, December 12, 2022, causing Beijing to suffer its worst bout of air pollution in nearly two years. This is the latest sand and dust warning signal issued by Beijing since 2015.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the capital Beijing on December 12, causing the air quality index (AQI) of PM10 particles to hit 999 — meaning it exceeded the top of the scale, far beyond the point deemed hazardous to health.1

Concentrations of PM10 particles exceeded 561 micrograms per cubic meter by 08:00 LT, according to Beijing’s environmental monitoring center. That figure is more than 10 times the daily average guideline of 45 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization.1

Sandstorms, originating in Mongolia, also hit northern Hebei and Shanxi provinces, western Gansu, and central and western Inner Mongolia on Monday, state-run news agency Xinhua said.

Beijing Meteorological Observatory issued a blue dust warning signal early Monday morning.

“From the perspective of the same period of the year, it is relatively rare for Beijing to have obvious dust weather in December,” the observatory noted.2

“This is also the latest sand and dust warning signal issued by Beijing since 2015.”

rare december sandstorm hits beijing 2022
Image credit: Wang Xiao/ China Weather Network

In general, such obvious sand and dust weather in December is relatively rare. Generally, the weather is cold at this time, and the soil in the sand source is frozen or covered with snow, so it is not easy to produce sand. 

The obvious dust weather in Beijing this time is still affected by the cold air, and the strong wind transports the sand and dust from the upstream sand source to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.

Wang Weiyue, a meteorological analyst at China Weather Network, said that compared with the 1960s and 1970s, the number of dust days in Beijing has decreased by 70% in recent years, and the intensity has weakened significantly.

sandstorm over china december 12 2022 bg
Image credit: NOAA-20/VIIRS, The Watchers. Acquired on December 12, 2022
no-sandstorm over china december 11 2022 bg
Image credit: NOAA-20/VIIRS, The Watchers. Acquired on December 11, 2022 (for comparison)


1 Beijing and northern China hit by winter sandstorm – CNN – December 12, 2022

2 Dust has arrived! For the first time in seven years, Beijing issued a dust warning in December – China Weather Network – December 12, 2022

Featured image credit: NOAA-20/VIIRS, The Watchers. Acquired on December 12, 2022


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