Cold front to lift smog choking Beijing – for now
But conditions to worsen later in the week as winds weaken
Beijing was finally given respite from smog on Sunday with a cold front dispersing pollution that had cut visibility and caused flight cancellations.
But the let-up will be brief because air quality is expected to worsen again this week, according to the National Meteorological Centre (NMC).
Beijing’s air quality index dropped to 62 by 6pm on Sunday, suggesting moderate air quality, according to the municipal environmental monitoring centre. But the US embassy’s reading was 139, meaning the air was unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Despite the big difference, AQI figures measured by both parties were well down on the “unhealthy” levels of Friday and Saturday.
The NMC said air quality would continue to improve today with the arrival of another cold front but worsen again on Wednesday.
Smog has shrouded the country’s north and northeast since Wednesday, affecting Beijing and Tianjin, and Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. Many cities recorded air quality readings beyond the index’s upper limit of 500.
In Shanghai, at least nine people died and more than 40 were injured when two vehicles crashed in heavy smog on a highway on Sunday.
Beijing issued a yellow air pollution alert – the second- lowest on the four-tier scale – for three days from Wednesday. Visibility in some areas in the capital dropped to lower than 100 metres at its worst on Friday, causing flight cancellations and delays.
Beijing Capital International Airport cancelled 512 flights on Friday, according to mainland media. In all, 1,355 flights were delayed or cancelled, The Beijing Times reported.
A photo of the obscured view from the control tower of the Beijing airport went viral on Weibo since it was uploaded by a user on Saturday. The photo showed the staff facing windows, with the view completely obscured by thick smog. “You are not mistaken, no curtains were drawn here,” the user said in the post.
Other smog-affected airports in the region also reported widespread cancellations and delays.
Some sections of highways in the region were also closed due to poor visibility.