Also Made in China: The Big Dust Storm – Henry Fountain
From The New York Times (link):
As President Hu Jintao left China for the United States last week, something was sweeping into Beijing behind him. A large dust storm hit the capital, turning skies a murky yellow and coating buildings and streets in fine powder.
While dust storms are not unusual in China, particularly in the spring, “this one was quite a bit more extreme than they’ve had in recent years,” said Thomas E. Gill, an associate professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Texas at El Paso who studies dust storms. The storm’s intensity may have been due to drought in China’s extensive deserts, or to land clearing and other agricultural practices that leave soil exposed.
The Olympics will be in Beijing in August 2008, and a major dust storm could wreak havoc. Most storms occur in the spring, Professor Gill said, “but if conditions are right, dust storms can happen any time of year.”