Last Sunday, January 7, 2018, snow fell in maybe the most unlikely place on Earth. An Algerian town in the Sahara Desert called Ain Sefra got a couple of inches of snow. It clung to the dunes for about an hour and a half before melting. The Atlas Mountains which ring the town saw snow stick there around a bit longer, as Zinnadine Hashas, a local photographer who captured the scenes, reported.
The town isn’t exactly a snow magnet at 1,000 meters (i.e., 3,280 feet) above the sea level. The average low in January is 12.4 degrees Celsius (i.e., 54 degrees Fahrenheit) based on records from the German weather service. It’s not even a precipitation magnet. Ain Sefra picks up a total of 6.65 inches of precipitation per year on average, putting it well under the threshold of ten inches a year scientists use to classify a place as a desert.
However, over the weekend, the Algerian weather service warned of snow in the western part of the country forecasting 10-15 centimeters (i.e., 4-6 inches) of snow. And on last Sunday night, its forecast came to bear.
A blast of cold air related to a low-pressure system spiraling over the western Mediterranean brought snowfall to the town and surrounded dunes and mountains. A similar pattern brought snow in the region last year, as well. Before that, the only other recorded snowfall there occurred in February 1979, although the highest reaches of Algeria receive snow every few years.
Here are some beautiful pictures of snow in Sahara:
A satellite picture captured on January 7 demonstrates snow visible on the ridgelines to the east of Ain Sefra (NASA Worldview).
above photo by: Zinnedine Hashas