Beijing, home to 21.7 million , was historically hit by sandstorms on a much more regular basis but on Monday it experienced what its weather bureau has called the worst sandstorm in a decade. The sky was covered by an apocalyptic-looking orange haze. The sand was being brought in by strong winds from Mongolia where the severe sandstorms have reportedly caused six deaths and left dozens missing. It caused an unprecedented increase in air pollution measurements , with pollution levels in some districts at 160 times the accepted limit. At least 12 provinces in the country had been affected. “It looks like the end of the world,” some residents affirmed. Schools had been told to cancel outdoor events. Sandstorms like the one seen this week, caused by wind, are harder to control.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or grounded. Visibility was so bad in parts of the city that drivers had to turn on their headlights even in the middle of the day. the Central Meteorological Observatory issued a yellow alert for sandstorms , the second level in a four-tier color-coded weather warning system. Authorities advised the public to avoid going outside if possible. Since 2000, the Chinese government has invested billions of dollars toward sandstorm prevention and installed satellites to monitor sandstorms.