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Easing Conditions for Smog-Engulfed China

Relief is finally in sight for the city of Harbin in northeastern China, which has was brought to a standstill by extreme smog.

On Monday, the smog swarmed northeastern China, basically closing down the city with a population of about 10 million people. Parts of the public bus system were stopped. Classes were suspended. Domestic and international flights were delayed or cancelled.

Those who decided to traverse the city were advised to wear masks over their mouths to help remove harmful pollution from the air.

Monitoring stations on Tuesday reported pollution levels at concentrations of PM2.5, 30 times the recommended standard.

The stagnant air is a result of a high pressure area that sat over China over the weekend. The lack of air movement plus the high humidity are rather rare for this portion of China.

Government officials, as reported by the China Daily, also blamed the smog on the rise in coal burning at the end of the autumn harvest. By burning the crop stalks, increased concentrations of smoke rose into the atmosphere that was trapping anything and everything.

After a subtle decrease in smog on Tuesday, a change in the weather pattern will ultimately relief to the Harbin area for the second half of the week.

On Wednesday, a system that developed over Mongolia early in the week will push into northern China and eventually reach Harbin early Thursday.

Although extreme winds and torrential downpours are not expected, the movement of air in addition to rain through Friday will help to alleviate the poor air quality and visibility.

This same system will help to keep the center of Typhoon Francisco just east of Japan. This storm over China in combination with the weakening tropical system will help to keep the effects in Tokyo. The impacts will pale in comparison to the damage done by Wipha when it followed a similar track just last week.