BOULDER, Colo., March 27 (UPI) -- The remnants of a massive dust storm that blew out of China's remote Gobi Desert last week were expected to pass over California during the next few days.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said scientists stationed along the coast were ready to take measurements of the thinning cloud with laser radars known as Lidar, and with balloons launched from Trinidad Head near the Northern California town of Eureka.
"Should the plume reach Colorado, as did a similar dust storm in April 2001, light aircraft will sample the plume to measure for air pollution gases," said Russ Schnell, a scientist with the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.
While it was likely to be largely unnoticed in California, the dust definitely made its presence known last week in Asia.
A NOAA satellite image taken on Sunday clearly showed the cloud spreading over Korea, the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea.
Chinese media reported that the storm blew an estimated 30,000 tons of dust and sand into Beijing and reached Japan and Korea as well. Visibility in the Chinese capital dropped to 100 yards at times and many residents were forced to don masks to keep from breathing in particles.