Tibet sandstorms two months early

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-24 06:49
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LHASA: Weather forecasters are warning of disruption to transport and other problems with the sandstorm season beginning two months early in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

Lhasa, the regional capital, was cloaked in dust on Sunday afternoon. Winds gusting up to 79 kilometers per hour swept up debris and even blew over a 10-meter tree. Flights were cancelled or postponed, leaving about 400 passengers stranded at the airport.

"Dust storms hit Lhasa every year, but normally not until March," said Zhoema, who has been living in the city for more than 30 years. "It is rare to see such a strong dust storm in January."

Experts said the sand mainly came from the Lhasa River to the south of the city. They believed that this winter's very low rainfall, only 0.1 millimeters, and high temperatures were to blame for the weather.

The weather in Lhasa improved yesterday, but experts did not rule out the possibility of more dust storms with more high winds expected today.

The first dust storm of the year hit Lhasa on January 10, according to the regional meteorological station.

A daytime temperature of 20.4 C was recorded in Lhasa at the beginning of this month, just a tenth of a degree below the record high set in 2001, said Yu Zhongshui from the meteorological station.

Lhasa has one of the best air quality ratings of all the cities in China.


(China Daily 01/24/2007 page2)