Yesterday afternoon Tokyo was hit by a huge dust storm that blew in from Mongolia. It was totally shocking how quickly it blew in, and how dramatic it was. I was in the middle of drying my hair when John called me to come see a crazy storm cloud. It was so dark it looked like a rain cloud, but there was a yellow tint that made it look unusual. The strangest part was the clearly defined edge of it, past which the sky was bright blue and lovely. Luckily we closed all of our air vents because we went sure what it was, and I went back to finish drying my hair. By the time I was finished the entire sky was a sickly yellow brown, and much of our view was obscured by the haze. It stayed for a little less than two hours, and then blew away.
I was surprised to read that apparently this is a normal weather phenomenon that happens in late winter and early spring in the Gobi desert and sweeps across Asia. Only the larger storms make it across China and Korea all the way to Japan, but the very worst can make it to the west coast of the US. Crazy! Unfortunately some of the rapid industrialization in China has led to deforestation which has exacerbated this phenomenon, making the storms more frequent. I took some pictures of the dust storm yesterday and then the same shots this morning so you can see what it was like.