A sandstorm swept across northern China yesterday, sparking mild panic of a possible apocalypse in Beijing and rendering spans of northern skies completely yellow.
The storm, which reached speeds of up to 75 kilometers per hour, took pedestrians by surprise. Many who were out and about had to whip out napkins, scarves and sun visors to shield their faces.
The Beijing Meteorological Station updated its weather alert from blue to yellow, predicting that visibility would drop to less than 1,000 meters.
Air pollution also drastically increased thanks to the storm. By the evening, multiple sites showed PM10 readings of 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, according to the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Centre.
Authorities urged people to stay indoors, but those who were brave enough to venture out revealed muffled photos online showing smudged outlines of buildings and even people.
One internet user expressed went as far as to say “I feel like it is the end of the world”.
Another wrote: “It feels like we are living in a desert, I wonder how we can survive such bad weather”.
This is not the first time Beijing has been hit by the filthy combination of smog and a sandstorm. In 2013, the capital was blanketed by an equally powerful sandstorm, but shifted the blame to Inner Mongolia, stating it was caused by factors beyond control.
Beijing isn’t the only place that’s been affected. In some areas of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, visibility was reduced to less than 300 meters, according to weather officials.
Similarly, the National Meteorological Centre forecast on Tuesday that parts of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Tianjin, Gansu, Shaanxi, Hebei and Jilin would also be affected.
Forecasts further predicted that a strong cold front would sweep north China, bringing temperatures down by to 12 degrees Celsius in areas along the Yellow and Huaihe rivers.
Could future problems in Beijing be not only from the worsening smog…but more sandstorms?
Check out footage from the storm here and an especially dramatic CCTV time-lapse video showing Beijing “fading out” over several hours below.
By Freya Twigden