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Snow in the Sahara dessert

Snow in the Sahara? The idea might seem crazy as the Sahara’s one of the hottest places on Earth. Yet it’s true. Ain Sefra, a small town in Algeria known as the gateway to the Sahara Dessert, woke to a beautiful snow-covered landscape on 8 January 2018. And that wasn’t the first time it’s snowed there.

Nor was this year’s fall the heaviest that’s happened in a town that’s far more used to the stifling heat provided by temperatures that regularly soar above 40 degrees Centigrade in the summer, and the average minimum seldom drops below 10 degrees Centigrade at this time of year.

The town was covered in almost a meter of snow late in December 2016, setting the record for the most snow to fall at one time in the Sahara Dessert in living memory. This year the landscape was covered in just under half that amount, with a fall of about 40cm. This is the first time two snowfalls have been recorded within just over a calendar year. Previously, a significant snowfall was recorded on February 18, 1979 when a snowstorm lasting 30 minutes caused major disruption. There were also dustings of snow in 2005, and again in 2012, both of which disappeared within minutes.

In case you’re wondering, Ain Sefra has an average rainfall of around 15cm per year. That’s well below the threshold of 25cm that determines whether an area’s rainfall (or lack thereof) allows it to be classified as a dessert.



Photos (facebook) by rt Sidali, Gian Alonso, Rabah Ripou Ouchen, Issam Bouchetata Bouchetata


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