SNOW falls in the SAHARA: Ice blankets the dunes in rare desert phenomenon after temperatures plummeted overnight
- Snow fell in the Saharan town of Ain Sefra in Algeria for the fifth time in 42 years as temperatures dropped
- Locals battled freezing overnight temperatures of -2C (28F) in a desert that has seen highs of 136.4F (58C)
- Ain Sefra, known as The Gateway to the Desert, is 3,000ft above sea level and surrounded by Atlas Mountains
Snow has settled on the sand of the Sahara Desert after temperatures dropped below freezing.
Ice blanketed the dune in the rare phenomenon in the largest desert in the world, where temperatures of 136.4F (58C) have been recorded.
Photographer Karim Bouchetata captured stunning images of the snow and ice in the town of Ain Sefra in northwestern Algeria yesterday.
Snow has fallen on the sand in the Sahara Desert after temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, creating stunning landscapes
Ice blanketed the dune in the unusual phenomenon in the largest hot desert in the world, where temperatures of 58C have been recorded
Photographer Karim Bouchetata took pictures of the snow and ice in the town of Ain Sefra in northwestern Algeria yesterday
Overnight, the mercury in the Algerian town is currently plummeting to -2C (28F).
The ice created stunning patterns in the sand after the area saw a sprinkling of snow fall unexpectedly.
The dusting of snow is the fifth time in 42 years that the town has seen snow, with previous occurrences in 1979, 2016, 2018 and 2021.
Ain Sefra – known as The Gateway to the Desert – is around 3,000ft above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.
Overnight, the mercury in the Algerian town is currently plummeting to -2C (28F) as snow continues to be dumped on the dunes
The ice created stunning patterns in the sand after the area saw a sprinkling of snow fall unexpectedly
The Sahara Desert covers most of Northern Africa and it has gone through shifts in temperature and moisture over the past few hundred thousand years.
Although the Sahara is very dry today, it is expected to become green again in about 15,000 years.
Last year, camels were seen surrounded by snow as North Africa was gripped by extreme temperatures in the summer and winter months.
Last January also saw snow blanket the Saharan dunes (pictured) in the region which has only seen snow five times in 42 years
Sheep were seen standing on the ice-covered dunes in the Algerian Sahara in January 2021 as temperatures dipped below zero
Residents of Saudi Arabia expressed joy and excitement over the rare snowfall in the country’s Aseer region last year
How common is snow in the desert?
Snow and ice are unusual in desert regions but not completely unknown.
Temperatures in deserts can drop dramatically overnight but any snowfall is usually melted early the following day.
In cases like those seen this month in Algeria, high pressure systems of cold air have moved over land to the deserts, causing lower temperatures.
Such anticyclones tend to reach Saudi Arabia by moving clockwise out from Central Asia, picking up moisture en route which cools to form snow.
January 2022 and 2021 saw snow come to the Sahara and Saudi Arabia but it is not the first time these usually blisteringly hot spots have been blanketed in white.
In 2018, Ain Sefra was dusted in snow for the third time in 40 years.
The phenomenon has been noted in the town in 2021, 2018 and 2017, with the last recorded snowfall before that being in 1979.
Temperatures in the town usually range from 12C in January, the coldest month, to nearer to 40C in July.
While the Asir region of Saudi Arabia had its first snowfall in half a century last January, snow has hit elsewhere in the desert kingdom in recent years.
In 2020, temperatures dipped below freezing in the country’s mountainous northwestern regions including Tabuk, as a blizzard prompted officials to warn residents to keep warm.
A year earlier, snow fell in April.
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