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Northern Dust Brings Dirty Skies to Shanghai
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Shanghai suffered the worst air quality since 2001 as the effects of sandstorms in China's north moved south yesterday.


Local conditions were so bad that children and the elderly were cautioned to remain indoors.


Skies are expected to improve today, but airborne dust will probably still remain in the severely polluted range.


Sandstorms began last week in Inner Mongolia and spread across northern China from Beijing in the east to Kashgar in the west.


Dust clouds started to move into the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River yesterday, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau's environmental center.


Suspended particles yesterday reached a high of 0.623 milligrams per cubic meter of air, six times higher than the annual average last year, the center said.


The city's air pollution index hit 500 yesterday, the highest since 2001. The grade-five reading - the index maximum - carries a "severely polluted" rating.


A cold front that began moving into the city on Sunday is expected to strengthen today and push out some of the dusty air.


Today's air quality is forecast to improve only to within 300, or grade four, however.


In comparison, only two other days in the past seven years had a grade-four or worse rating.


The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau warned children and senior citizens to stay indoors as much as possible until conditions improve.


The high today will fall slightly to 13 degrees Celsius from yesterday's 14.3 degrees. The low will drop to five degrees from 10.5 degrees.


Skies should be sunny to partly cloudy, the weather bureau said.


Warmer weather is on the horizon starting tomorrow, with temperatures rising gradually above 15 degrees on Thursday. The chance of rain will also increase later in the week.


(Shanghai Daily April 3, 2007)

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