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Year's first regional sandstorm hits northwest China
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The first regional sandstorm in spring 2008 hit northwest China's Gansu province on Friday, with the arid Minqin county experiencing a strong sandstorm, a local meteorologist said.

The sandstorm started at 8:00 a.m. and lingered, according to observations at meteorological stations in Lanzhou, Jinchang, Minqin, Jintai and Gaotai. Floating sand and dust were observed at several other meteorological stations.

The strong sandstorm hit Minqin county at 12:40 p.m. and turned the sky dark and yellow, with a visibility of about 300 meters at ground level, said Hu Lili, an observer with the Minqin weather station.

People wrapped scarves tightly around their mouths and sand got into houses through doors and window gaps, she said.

The strong sandstorm ended at around 2:00 p.m. in Minqin but the dusty weather continued.

The first sandstorm of this spring hit Gansu's Dunhuang and Yumen cities on Feb. 22 but didn't develop into a regional sandstorm, which requires three observations in a single day.

Most of the province will have fine weather on Saturday, the Lanzhou Municipal Meteorological Observatory said on Friday.

However, parts of Yulin and Yan'an -- cities in neighboring Shaanxi Province -- are expected to experience sandstorms, and central parts of the province will be enveloped in floating dust as strong wind hits on Saturday, the provincial meteorological station forecast on Friday afternoon.

The China Meteorological Administration said earlier this month that the northern regions were likely to experience more frequent and severe spring sandstorms than last year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2008)

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