Say Bye to Blue Skies: Severe Smog Returns to Beijing This Weekend

Beijing's unseasonal blue skies will come to an end this weekend as the city prepares for the first smog attack of the year immediately after suffering this winter's coldest temperatures.

An orange alert for severe air pollution has been pre-emptively issued for the greater Beijing area that will begin Friday at midnight and last until next Wednesday with the most severe conditions to occur on Monday.

Up until this weekend, Beijing's air quality has been excellent for the past few weeks. Thursday's local PM2.5 readings hovered in the single digits, while multiple year-end reports describe Beijing's air quality as the best its been in five years.

READ: No Snow in Sight as Another Cold Snap Descends Upon Beijing

The orange alert alerts arrives just as Beijing experienced its coldest temperatures so far this season. Due to a cold front equipped with strong winds, overnight lows reached -11 degrees Celsius early Friday morning.

Warmer temperatures will return to Beijing this weekend with daytime averages of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. However, the lack of strong winds will allow a haze of smog to settle over mountain-ringed Beijing.

During the orange smog alert, certain vehicles will be restricted from local roads and schools are advised to cancel outdoor activities.

Emergency measures like widespread traffic restrictions and school cancellations are only enacted for a red smog alert, of which the last one for the city was issued back in 2016.

Winter marks Beijing's annual heating season when boilers around the city are fired up to heat neighborhoods that depend on central heating. Traditionally fueled by coal, the city has made efforts reduce pollution during heating season, such as by shutting down Beijing's largest coal-fired power plant.

The next cold front isn't expected to blow into the city until next Thursday, Jan 18.

More stories from this author here.

E-Mail: charlesliu1 (at) qq (dot) com
Twitter: @Sinopath

Images: BJ News