Snow stuns as more than a foot falls in Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert Snow Winter Algeria NASA

Courtesy of European Space Agency

Stretches of yellowy-red sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, which are otherwise fuming hot for most of the year, are now streaked whith white snow.

Photographers Hamouda Ben Jerad and Sekkouri Kamel captured people slipping and sliding down the sand dunes after the small Algerian town of Ain Sefra saw up to 40cm of snow fall during a freak winter storm on Sunday. As the Sahara is renowned for its extreme temperatures, it's not unusual for the temperature to plunge tens of degrees Fahrenheit at night. However, the occurrence is still very rare.

When locals woke up to discover the new steep snowy slopes they took every advantage to enjoy the in the world's hottest desert.

Typically, the Sahara is too dry for snow, Stefan Kröpelin, a geologist at the University of Cologne in Germany, told.On Sunday, cold air discriminating south combined with the right amount of humidity, Kaplan says. But, the snow actually stayed intact for a good portion of the day.

Ain Sefra Village Algeria Sahara Desert Snow Winter NASA
Joshua Stevens NASA Earth Observatory

Before that snow was last seen in Ain Sefra on February 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour.

Snow rarely falls in the Sahara where temperatures in the summer frequently hit 38C to 40C (100F to 104F), but it is the third time in nearly 40 years that Ain Sefra has seen snow, with it also receiving a blanketing in 2016 and 2017.

Ain Sefra is around 1000 metres above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

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