Starting on April 29, 2011, the northern part of China has been hit with large-scale sandstorms. The sandstorms were the strongest this spring, covering 10 provinces, including Gansu, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, and Beijing, and 286 counties or cities (about 2.3 million square kilometers). The total population impacted by the sandstorms was 90 million. It’s the second time this year that Beijing and the Tianjin area were attacked by sandstorms. Downtown Beijing’s ground visibility was reduced to five kilometers. This round of sandstorms originated in Southern Mongolia and the South Xinjiang Basin. Coupled with low precipitation in the region, cold air was the main force that pushed the sand and dust south.
Source: China News Service, April 30, 2011