Central Asia yellow sand fogs Japan

by Reiji Yoshida

Carried by the winds for thousands of kilometers from the deserts of Central Asia and western China, yellow sand was observed in various parts of Japan late Sunday and Monday morning for the first time this year, the Meteorological Agency said.

According to the agency’s branch in Kumamoto, the yellow sand limited local visibility to 3 km at 9 a.m. Monday. In the afternoon, yellow sand was also seen in Tokyo, Fukushima and Sendai, the agency said.

The agency urged transportation operators to exercise caution. Flights at Fukuoka airport have been suspended in the past when the sand cut visibility to 2 km, an agency official in Tokyo said.

Yellow sand, or “kosa,” is observed at the beginning of spring.

The sand, carried aloft as high as 6 km, comes mainly from the Takla Makan and Gobi Deserts of Central Asia as well as the Loess Plateau of western China, according to the agency.

Yellow sand was observed Monday in Okinawa, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Ehime, Aichi, Okayama, Hiroshima, Tottori, Shimane, Osaka, Hyogo, Wakayama and Gifu prefectures.