The China Meteorological Administration h
as issued a blue sandstorm alert for most provinces in Northwest China including Beijing. Sandstorms hit central Inner Mongolia on Monday 13 and sand has blown eastwards to Beijing, with Yanqing’s weather station reporting a PM10 reading of 473.
PM10, which measures particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter, such as sand, is the most accurate gauge to know if you’re in a sandstorm. Otherwise, you can also take cues such as seeing Beijing shrouded in a yellow haze or finding sand in your ear. While not as worrying as a high PM2.5, with smaller particles that travel deeper into the lungs, a high PM10 still can cause respiratory discomfort as they are small enough to be inhaled.
Readings earlier in the afternoon show PM10 in its 200s double, that of the PM2.5 index, which means that the sandstorm has not fully dissipated. Should the main body of the sandstorm in Inner Mongolia blow in a southeasterly direction, it could cause PM10 levels to rise. Two years ago on May 4, a major sandstorm caused Beijing's PM10 to hit 1,500 in central areas and a reading of over 2,000 in Yanqing.
According to the China Meteorological Administration, sandstorms come to Beijing in two ways. 80 percent of occurrences are due to sandstorms from the Xinjiang-Najiang Basin and western Inner Mongolia that mainly rise up in spring. The less common type is from local sand that forms due to dry conditions, which are then blown into the air when wind speeds hit more than 19mph.
The good thing is that Beijing sees an average of just three days a year. This might means that tomorrow morning at 8am, which is when the blue alert ends, is probably the last of the sandstorms we’ll see in 2019.
Until then, make sure you've got a filtration mask
that can handle PM10 particles, dig out the buckets and spades, and whack on this appropriately themed Eurotrash banger for the hutong/Club Med party of your dreams.