Snow Covers Parts Of The Sahara Desert For Third Time In 40 Years

Up to 16 inches of snow has fallen on an town in the Sahara desert after a freak winter storm hit the area on Sunday.

This is the third time in 37 years that the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria has seen snow cover the red sand dunes of the desert.

Snow started falling in the early hours of Sunday morning and it quickly began settling on the sand.

Sahara desert snow

Let it snow: Up to 16 inches of snow fell on the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria on Sunday

Sahara desert snow

Unusual sight: The usually orange-coloured sand dunes of the Sahara desert were covered in snow

Sahara desert snow

This is the third time in 37 years that the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria has seen snow

While the town saw an inch or two, the sand dunes on its outskirts were covered in snow.

Photographer Karim Bouchetata said: ‘We were really surprised when we woke up to see snow again. It stayed all day on Sunday and began melting at around 5pm.’

In 2016, the town known as ‘The Gateway to the Desert’ saw deep snow shortly after Christmas and it caused chaos, with passengers stranded on buses after the roads became slippery and icy.

Come January 2017, the town saw snowfall yet again, and children made snowmen and even sledged on the sand dunes.

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

A spokesman for the Met Office said this morning: ‘Cold air was pulled down south into North Africa over the weekend as a result of high pressure over Europe.

Sahara desert snow

Going, going, gone: By 5pm in the afternoon, the snow had melted away from the sand dunes

Sahara desert snow

Unusual: The Saharan desert town has only seen snow three times int he past 37 years – in 1979, in 2016 and in 2017

Sahara desert snow

Footsteps: The snowy footprints of people walking on the snow is all that remains as the dunes are heated up

‘The high pressure meant the cold weather extended further south than normal.’

Ain Sefra is located around 3,280ft above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

Despite its altitude, it is extremely rare to see snow in the town, and it is normally six to 12 degrees Celsius in January.

The Sahara Desert covers most of Northern Africa and it has gone through shifts in temperature and moisture over the past few hundred thousand years.

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