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Dusty weather to hit N China over weekend

Updated: 2013-03-09 07:02
By Wang Qian and Zheng Xin ( China Daily)

As skyscrapers vanished in murky smog on Friday, meteorologists in Beijing said the smog will soon be blown away with a dust storm this weekend.

Qiao Lin, head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, said strong winds on Friday evening will blow away smog and bring in dust on Saturday.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center suggested residents stay indoors and not open windows during the dust storm.

It will be the second time this month that the capital has been hit by smog and subsequent dust storm.

Shaanxi, Shanxi and Gansu provinces, and the Xinjiang Uygur, Ningxia Hui and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions are also expected to have dusty weather over the weekend, according to the National Meteorological Center on Friday.

The center asked people to wear face masks if they go out, and added that children and the elderly should stay indoors.

Meanwhile, gales will also bring a temperature drop of up to 14 degrees C in most part of northern China.

Liu Yi, a Beijing resident who just gave birth to a baby girl last week, said she was worried about the yellow sky.

"In the month of confinement after giving birth, I cannot go out. But now I cannot even open the window and breathe some fresh air," she sighed.

Although her new air purifier is running nonstop, Liu still felt a little choked, with no fresh air coming through the room.

Levels of PM2.5 on Friday reached 329 micrograms per cubic meter - noting severe pollution - in downtown Beijing, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.

Lu Yao, who had to go to work in the Wangjing area in Beijing, wore a face mask on his two-hour commute.

"It is a tragedy with Friday in haze and Saturday in sand," he said, adding his 4-year-old son has been coughing since early this month.

Yang Ping, a doctor in Hebei Provincial People's Hospital, said there is no room for more children who are having respiratory problems.

PM2.5 is tiny particulate matter, less than 2.5 micrometers in size, that can penetrate deep into the lungs. It is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

Wang Yaqiang, deputy director of the atmosphere composition institute at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, said the smoggy and dusty days may become normal weather, if the pollutant emissions don't go down.

The dry weather also increases the risk of forest fires, with Beijing authorities issuing a red alert for forest fires on Friday for the weekend.

Red alert is the highest level in China's four-tier color-coded fire-warning system.

The capital is at risk for forest fires due to the lack of rainfall and the rise in temperature, according to the national forest fire prevention headquarters under the State Forestry Administration.

The headquarters asked local authorities to further monitor and guard against possible fires, with better emergency plans.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry said residents should be more aware of forest fire prevention.

On Friday, the temperature in some cities in northern China reached a record daily high, with Zhengzhou, Henan, reaching 32.2 C.

The highest temperature in Beijing was 22.1 C on Friday, said the weather authorities.

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