‘Winter Wonderland’: Sahara Desert Sees Snow for the First Time in 37 years

December 23, 2016

The town of Ain Sefra in Algeria saw snowfall for the first time since 1979. The city and others like it sit nestled in the deep, arid Sahara Desert.

snow4[Image Source: NASA]

NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite managed to capture incredible overhead images as it flew by on Dec. 19.

snow3[Image Source: NASA]

While it’s far from savannah animals trekking through snow, the weather incident has managed to grab international attention. However, NASA reminds readers snow isn’t hyper-rare in Africa. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania typically gets snowfall. South Africa even boasts ski locales for tourists.

Photographer Karim Bouchetata snapped some images of the Sahara’s dune glistening with light snow.

snow1[Image Source: Karim Bouchetata / Facebook]

“Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata said in an interview with the Independent. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand.”

snow2[Image Source: Karim Bouchetata / Facebook]

The Sahara, the world’s largest hot desert, can exceed temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius) during summer months. The desert spans its 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square km) across most of northern Africa, including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Sudan (just to name a few countries).

The town of Ain Sefra sits 1,078 meters above sea level amidst the Atlas Mountain range. NASA explained the snow’s appearance and rarity:

“The snow fell in a region where summertime temperatures average 37°Celsius (99°Fahrenheit), though wintertime temperatures have been known to get down into the single digits Celsius (30s Fahrenheit). Such moisture is as rare as the cool temperatures, given that just a few centimeters (inches) of precipitation fall here in an entire year.”

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