Seoul is shrouded with a layer of yellow dust originating from northern China on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
The worst sandstorm in 10 years from China blew over to South Korea early Tuesday, and is expected to affect mostly the western part of the country until Wednesday.
Yellow dust that originates in the Mongolian Plateau, the Gobi Desert and northeastern China gets carried over to the Korean Peninsula by the north winds that are typically prevalent in March.
The Korea Meteorological Agency said the yellow dust will gradually dissipate on Wednesday, but remnants could linger depending on the atmospheric movements around the peninsula.
Due to the yellow dust, the weather agency’s fine dust level forecasts shifted to “very bad” in the Seoul metropolitan area, Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces as well as the Jeju Island area; and “bad” in the Gangwon and Gyeongsang provinces.
Fine dust levels in Gangwon and Gyeongsang provinces reached “very bad” levels in the morning, before easing off later.
The biggest sandstorm in nearly a decade swept northern China including Beijing on Monday.
In Mongolia, six people died and 81 were missing, according to a Chinese state-run news outlet.
The Chinese weather agency issued yellow alerts for sandstorms, the second highest level in a four-tier weather warning system, in 12 provinces and cities including Xinjiang, Gansu, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
According to Chinese media, the yellow dust that originated from Inner Mongolia, a Chinese autonomous region, was the most powerful sandstorm China has seen in 10 years.
Combined with continued winter heating and a recent spike in factory operations, the air in Beijing turned orange, prompting some on social media to describe the situation as “it was like landing on Mars” and “it seems like the end of the world,” Chinese media reported.
The fine dust level in Beijing shot up to 8,108 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, or more than 53 times the minimum amount of fine dust for a “very bad” level in Korea at 151 micrograms.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org