Monster China dust storm triggers red pollution alerts in N. Taiwan

Airpocalypse: Red pollution alerts issued in N. Taiwan as huge China dust storm arrives

(Satellite map by WeatherRisk)

(Satellite map by WeatherRisk)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As a massive dust storm from China begins to descend on Taiwan, over a dozen air quality monitoring stations in the north of the country and on outlying islands showed "red" alerts — meaning that air quality is unhealthy for all groups today (Oct. 30).

On his Facebook page at 7 a.m. this morning, Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典), director of the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) Meteorological Research and Development Center, posted a map showing extremely poor air quality levels across China and arrows pointing toward Japan and Taiwan. Cheng wrote that a dust storm from China is beginning to envelop the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and Taiwan.

Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) reports that northeast winds are combining with the dust storm as it creeps south to drastically affect air quality across Taiwan today. The EPA predicts that the dust storm will continue to drift southward, affecting northern, central, and southern Taiwan, making the accumulation of air pollutants likely.

A red alert has been issued at 13 weather stations across northern Taiwan, including Keelung, New Taipei City, Taipei City, and Taoyuan City, as well as the outer island of Matsu. Orange alerts for air that is unhealthy for sensitive groups have been issued at 21 weather stations in New Taipei City, Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County, Hsinchu City, Miaoli County, and Yunlin County in addition to outer islands Kinmen and Penghu.

Arrows show pollution headed for Japan and Taiwan. (Map from Cheng Ming-dean's Facebook page)

By this evening, the air quality from central to northern Taiwan may gradually improve as northeast winds and rainfall filter out some of the pollutants. However, the extent to which the pollution diminishes depends on the intensity of the wind and rain.

Increased wind speeds in the afternoon in Yunlin, Chiayi, and Nantou Counties could kick up dust, affecting air quality in those areas. On Thursday and Friday, the EPA predicts that northeast winds will present conditions better suited to dispersing the air pollutants in the northern, northeastern, and eastern parts of the island.

However, inland areas of central and southern Taiwan located downwind could see air pollutants accumulate that day. Meanwhile, Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties are likely to see orange alerts on Thursday.