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Dust storm in China moving eastward, may affect Taiwan

Weather bureau chief shares satellite images showing storm movement

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Satellite images show a dust storm moving eastward from China. (Facebook, Cheng Ming-dean GIF)

Satellite images show a dust storm moving eastward from China. (Facebook, Cheng Ming-dean GIF)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As air quality in western Taiwan reached yellow to red alert levels due to unfavorable conditions for air pollutant dispersion, Central Weather Bureau (CWB) Director-General Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典) said Taiwan must also be wary of an ongoing dust storm.

On Friday (March 4), Cheng took to Facebook to post satellite images showing large areas covered in dust originating from north China. “This is a dust storm! It is currently ongoing and mainly spreading towards Korea and Japan; some dust may still move south and affect Taiwan and needs to be tracked!” he wrote.

According to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), northeasterly winds that started blowing on Wednesday (March 2) brought a wave of air pollutants to Taiwan, which had spread to and begun to deeply affect central and south Taiwan by Thursday (March 3). When wind directions changed on Friday to come from the southeast, the Central Mountain Range became an obstacle, trapping the pollutants on the other side.
Dust storm in China moving eastward, may affect Taiwan
Air pollutants are trapped in western Taiwan due to wind directions. (Air Quality Monitoring Network screenshot)

The EPA predicted that air quality in central and south Taiwan will remain at an orange alert level, reaching red alert levels at certain locations, and called for public and private entities alike to take steps to lower emissions. The public may also check air quality conditions on the EPA’s Air Quality Monitoring Network.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) divides air quality into six levels, ranging from “good” (green), “moderate” (yellow), “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (orange), “unhealthy” (red), “very unhealthy” (purple), to “hazardous” (maroon).

When air quality becomes “unhealthy,” per the EPA, “everyone may begin to experience health effects” while “members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.” The EPA recommends wearing masks when going outdoors under such conditions.

Dust storm in China moving eastward, may affect Taiwan
Air quality in western Taiwan reached orange and red alert on Friday. (Air Quality Monitoring Network screenshot)