Weather & Natural Disasters

Snow where? Town on edge of Sahara Desert gets flakes for first time in 37 years

Kalhan Rosenblatt
Snow in the Sahara desert near the town of Ain Sefra, Algeria Dec 20.
Rex Features | AP Images

Bright orange sand in the Sahara Desert was dusted in a layer of snow earlier this week after a strong polar front from the Mediterranean pushed past the Atlas Mountains near the coast of Algeria.

Pictures taken by Karim Bouchetata, who lives in Ain Sefra, Algeria, show the "Gateway to the Desert" town with an unusual coat of fresh powder. The photos show a rare dusting of desert snow, but Weather Channel experts said the occurrence happens about once a decade.

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"Although the air is dry and evaporative to an extreme, in the winter strong polar fronts from the Mediterranean can occasionally produce rain, and, in this case, snow," explained's Kait Parker. "It is not unusual for temperatures to dip below freezing in the winter."

Other parts of the Sahara received a layer of snow in 2005 and 2012, but the last time it snowed in Ain Sefra was 1979, according to Parker.

Ain Sefra, which is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, is about 3,500 feet above sea level. Parker said that in addition to creating a stunning view, the snow helps the town eliminate parasites.