Northern Chinese Cities Under Extreme Smog Alert as Visibility Plummets

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Northern Chinese cities issue top pollution alerts due to severe smog, drastically reducing visibility, prompting urgent concerns over air quality.

Men navigate thick Beijing smog on a polluted day. (Photo: Reuters)

Northern Chinese cities are grappling with a severe smog and haze crisis, prompting authorities to issue their highest pollution warnings. This atmospheric pollution has led to drastically reduced visibility, potentially dropping to less than 50 meters (164 feet).

Hebei province in the north initiated an anti-pollution emergency response, which includes measures such as suspending flight operations, temporarily closing highways, and discontinuing ferry services. Road users were urged to seek safe parking when necessary, and people were advised to stay indoors.

Beijing is ready to implement traffic control measures if the city activates its highest air pollution warning. The region has been shrouded in heavy smog for several days, with unseasonably warm autumn temperatures reaching nearly 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas. Experts attribute this unusual weather to weak cold air currents from the North Pole.

Pollution control experts noted that industrial activities, heavy trucking, and crop fires have contributed to the haze, leading to a 5% increase in regional power consumption by late October. The situation is particularly dire in industries such as cement, brick, and tile manufacturing.

Parts of Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, and Jiangsu provinces experienced heavy fog, reducing visibility to less than 1 km (0.62 miles).

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) anticipates that light to moderate haze will persist in the central and southern parts of China’s northern region until Thursday, with severe haze in the central areas. However, cold air currents from the north are expected to arrive Thursday night, potentially dispersing the haze.

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Toshika Chauhan

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