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Forecasters predict cold wind to clear smog from Shanghai
By Yang Jian

Severe pollution affecting Shanghai this morning should be swept away as a cold front pushes through the city, according to forecasters.

The Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said the air quality index would start in the 320-340 range, or severely polluted, but would lower to  270-290 in the afternoon.

The cold air will be accompanied by winds and there will be a noticeable decline in smog.

Fog reduced visibility in the city to less than 50 meters yesterday morning, triggering red alerts, the highest in a three-color warning system, in the city’s Qingpu and Songjiang districts. Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a citywide orange fog alert, the second highest, at 4:55am but lifted it five hours later as visibility improved.

The AQI stayed above 150 all day yesterday. PM2.5 density peaked at around 180 micrograms per cubic meter at 1pm but fell to 120 within two hours. PM10 density showed similar readings but both started to rise again in the late afternoon.

“Weather conditions will get better to disperse the pollutants after the arrival of the cold front,” said Kong Chunyan, a chief service officer at the weather bureau. “But overnight fog and light morning haze are still possible.”

Temperatures today are unlikely to exceed 13 degrees Celsius, with a low of 7 degrees. Tomorrow will see them drop below 10 degrees before they rise gradually to the low teens by Friday. Lows will range between 4 and 6 degrees throughout the week and the skies will be mostly cloudy.

Around 70 domestic and international flights were canceled and more than 150 delayed at Shanghai’s two airports yesterday because of poor visibility. The fog began to cover the city at around 3am yesterday and it affected most outbound and inbound flights at Pudong and Hongqiao international airports.

The KLM Royal Dutch airlines’ flight KL896 from Shanghai to Amsterdam was delayed for over five hours. It was due to leave in the morning but eventually took off around 2pm.

Several Chinese cities closed expressways and canceled flights as heavy fog and smog continue to grip a large part of the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

Almost all expressways in the eastern province of Jiangsu were closed yesterday morning. Traffic resumed on some roads in the afternoon, Xinhua said.

In Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu, visibility dropped to below 50 meters in some areas, and the airport reported delays or cancellations affecting more than 100 flights.

Traffic was temporarily suspended on several expressways in Beijing on Saturday. The bans were lifted at 2:40pm yesterday as wind dispersed the smog, Xinhua said.

The coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong Province reported dense fog yesterday, with the closure of several expressways and delays affecting more than 50 flights. The city also closed its port, with more than 70 ships stranded.

The smog has led to high pollution readings in many cities where authorities banned outdoor school activities and limited construction work.

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