Beijing faces rare May sandstorm with high wind gusts
Published: May 06, 2021 11:28 PM
High wind hits Beijing, capital city of China on May 6, 2021. Photo: CFP

High wind hits Beijing, capital city of China on May 6, 2021. Photo: CFP

Beijing is braving a sandstorm that caused high air pollution levels on Thursday afternoon with level nine wind gusts in some areas, a rare phenomenon for this time of the year.

According to the Beijing Municipal Ecological and Environmental Monitoring Center, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing hit 500 on Thursday afternoon, the highest possible reading on the scale.

The PM 10 concentration at a monitoring station in Tongzhou district, in the east of Beijing, rose to 926 micrograms per cubic meters.

The Beijing Meteorological Service posted on its official Weibo account on Thursday that sandy and windy weather is expected from noon until the evening with level five northern wind and gusts  that can reach up to level eight or nine in some areas.

At 2 pm, there was a strong level nine gust with a maximum wind speed of 22.1m/s in Beijing's Changping district.

Beijing recorded the strongest wind in May with a speed of 22.8m/s on May 5, 2010.  "The wind today could reach 20m/s at the southern outskirts of Beijing. If it does, it will be the strongest wind recorded in May in the past 10 years," said Hu Xiao, Chief Meteorologist at Weather China.

This is the fifth time this year that Beijing and surrounding regions have been battered by sandy weather with previous sandstorms on March 15, March 28, April 15 and April 26, the Guangming Online reported.

Dust may affect many provinces and cities across the country. Starting late Thursday afternoon there will be sandy weather in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, North China's Shanxi and Hebei provinces, East China's Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui provinces, and Central China's Henan Province.

China was hit by the largest sandstorm in a decade on March 15 followed by a second on March 28. When a third sandstorm hit Beijing on April 15, an expert team sent by China's forestry and meteorological authorities arrived in the deserts of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to do field research on the contributing factors for this year's frequent sandstorms across northern China.