I was traveling through western Amdo/northern Kham last month and experienced a full on blizzard. Temperatures were around -8C/18F and there were snow drifts over 2 feet/61cm deep. August is supposed to be summer for Tibet, though blizzards can occur in the extreme high elevations of Tibet any time of year. This wasn't the first time I had snow in the summer. I have been in many areas of Tibet where there were light snow flurries in the middle of summer and in July 2004 I was traveling near Mt. Chola in Dege county (western Kham) and was caught in a blizzard. But, the one I was in last month was worse.
The weather was fine on the first day of our trip. We passed through the nomadic grassland of the far northern Tibetan Plateau and the weather was quite nice. Then we began to gain more elevation. We stopped in northern Mado county for the night at an elevation of 4100m/13,450 feet. When we woke up the next morning there was 4 inches/10cm of snow on the ground with more falling from the sky. The temperature was well below freezing with heavy wind. It was quite fun to be in the midst of a snow storm in August! We were driving a Toyota Land Cruise (the best vehicle for the terrain of Tibet) so we didn't any any problems driving (pictured below). We took it slow, but had no problems. We were heading for the small town of Danglog and still had to cross a high pass near Mt. Amnye Machen. By the time we reached the top of the pass at 4700m+, the snow was coming down even harder. Visibility was very low. We saw several trucks that had wrecked off of the road.
The snow died down once we got to lower elevation (lower meaning 4000m). All together we drove through the blizzard for a little over 3 hours. Once we reached our destination, the sky was blue and the temperature was a balmy 8C/46F. While weather like this does not happen everyday in northern Tibet, it does happen. I have learned over the years to always be prepared no matter what time of year I go out. This was just another of the many great adventures I have had in Tibet over the past 7+ years.