Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/243

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

HURRICANE. DUST-STORMS.

219

always occurred in the daytime. They would begin with a moderate gale, gradually increasing in violence until midday, when they would continue to rage like a hurricane till sunset. By degrees the sky assumed a dust colour, growing thicker and thicker until the sun shone dimly, and at length was quite obscured from sight. Sand and small stones were carried through the air like hail or snow. We could neither open our eyes in the face of the wind, nor draw breath, and so charged was the air with fine dust that it could hardly pass into the lungs, and camels let loose to graze would forget their hunger and throw themselves on the ground.

But while the storm lasted, the thermometer rose to 32° Fahr., or even higher, a phenomenon which may be explained by the rapid passage through the air of the sand and dust previously warmed by the sun. Towards sunset it suddenly became calm, the dust remaining suspended in the atmosphere, often till the following morning, when a light wind had been stirring during the night.

Our travelling companion and guide in Northern Tibet was a Mongol, by name Chutun-dzamba; he was a zanghin, or officer of low grade, fifty-eight years of age, and had been nine times to Lhassa with caravans, so that he was well acquainted with the road. He was one of the most intelligent men in Tsaidam, and gave us a good deal of information on the countries through which we were travelling; and he would probably have imparted more if our interpreter had been better up to his work.