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Severe sandstorms hit parts of NW China

Severe sandstorms hit parts of NW China

Severe sandstorms hit Ruoqiang County in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the morning of February 17, 2024, reducing visibility to less than 100 m (330 feet) and prompting authorities to implement traffic control measures on many roads. In Turpan, local rescue teams were deployed to assist those stranded by the sandstorms.

The situation escalated on February 18 when the Shaanxi Meteorological Observatory issued a Yellow alert for sandstorms in the northwest China province. By midday, Xi’an and other cities in Shaanxi were engulfed in dust.

According to the Qinghai Meteorological Bureau, most areas of the province experienced sharp temperature drops and strong winds, in addition to the sand and dust in the air.

Before daybreak on February 17, temperatures in some areas of Xinjiang’s Toli County fell below -25 °C (-13 °F), leading to over 300 vehicles being stranded by a strong blizzard. In Gansu Province, highways in Jiuquan City were temporarily closed, with some vehicles stranded.

Furthermore, Tuerhong Township in Fuyun County, Xinjiang recorded a historic low temperature of -52.3 °C (-62.14 °F) on February 18, surpassing the -51.5 °C (-60.7 °F) record set on January 21, 1960, and approaching the national record low of -53 °C (-63.4 °F) observed in Mohe, Heilongjiang Province in 2023.

Weather conditions improved on February 19, allowing traffic to resume on some roads while snow and ice removal efforts continued on others.

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