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Sahara Desert Gets Snowfall in Rare Phenomenon, Stunning Photos Go Viral

After an unexpected sprinkle of snow fell in the region, the ice formed lovely patterns in the sand. (Photos: Twitter/@TheAfrican_Hub)

After an unexpected sprinkle of snow fell in the region, the ice formed lovely patterns in the sand. (Photos: Twitter/@TheAfrican_Hub)

The photographs were taken earlier this month near the town of Ain Sefra in northwest Algeria.

As temperatures dropped below zero across the dunes of the Sahara Desert, photographer Karim Bouchetata captured magnificent photographs of the snowfall at the Desert that produced hypnotic patterns. The photographs were taken earlier this month near the town of Ain Sefra in northwest Algeria and feature snow and ice. After an unexpected sprinkle of snow fell in the region, the ice formed lovely patterns in the sand. Daily Mail reported that the snowfall is the fifth in 42 years for the town, with prior occurrences in 1979, 2016, 2018, and 2021. Ain Sefra, also known as The Gateway to the Desert, is located around 3,000 feet above sea level and is bordered by the Atlas Mountains. The Sahara Desert covers most of Northern Africa and has experienced temperature and moisture shifts over the last few hundred thousand years. Although the Sahara is currently very dry, it is expected to revert to green in about 15,000 years. Camels were observed surrounded by snow last year when North Africa experienced high temperatures in the summer and winter months.

Snow and ice are uncommon in arid regions, yet they are not unheard of. Temperatures in deserts can drop significantly overnight, although any snowfall is generally melted the next day. Cases like those seen this month in Algeria can be attributed to the high pressure systems of cold air that have moved over land to the deserts in, causing lower temperatures.

Such anticyclones usually make their way to Saudi Arabia by travelling clockwise out of Central Asia, collecting up moisture along the way that cools to become snow. Snow fell in the Sahara and Saudi Arabia in January 2022 and 2021, but it is not the first time these normally scorching hot spots have been blanketed in white.

Temperatures in the town often range from 12 degrees Celsius in January, the coldest month, to approximately 40 degrees Celsius in July. While the Asir area of Saudi Arabia had its first snowfall in more than a half-century last January, snow has also fallen in other parts of the desert country in recent years. Temperatures fell below freezing in the country's mountainous northern areas, notably Tabuk, in 2020, due to a blizzard, prompting officials to urge residents to stay warm.

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first published:January 20, 2022, 12:02 IST