Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Rare weather occurrence blankets portions of Sahara Desert with snow

Rare weather occurrence blankets portions of Sahara Desert with snow

Images captured from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite show the blanketing snowfall in northwest Algeria, right on the edge of the Sahara desert - which averages between 104 degrees and 117 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

"Though [Ain Sefra's] winter temperatures are known to drop into the 30s, snow is as rare as the cool temperatures given that just a few centimeters of precipitation fall there annually", the agency said.

Some photos went viral showing the Sahara desert with a light dusting of snow on it. There was snow last year, CNN reported, but before that the last recorded snowfall was almost 40 years ago.

While this week's Saharan snowstorm was unusual, "it's not like it's never happened before, Kaplan says".

Before that, it had been 37 years since Ain Sefra's last snowfall.

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Portions of the Sahara desert near the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria were covered with up to 15 inches of snow as local residents found themselves in surrounded by a rare combination of the Sahara's red sand dunes and white snow.

Sahara snowfall blanketed the usually sun-kissed sand dunes the Sahara desert, allowing Algerians the chance to try out some icy sliding.

It just means if there were fast-melting flurries in the Sahara's vast 3.6 million square mile range, no one spotted or recorded them.

"It is so rare that it's a whole year since it last happened", joked Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. "A year seems like a long time to you and me, but it's not a long time for the atmosphere".

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