Salt or snow? Parts of Sahara Desert, Saudi Arabia get a white surprise

Global warming goes hand in hand with extreme weather events. But for Ain Sefra, an Algerian town bordering the Sahara Desert, it has brought a pretty surprise: snowfall! 

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Its 47,000-plus residents woke up to see icy patterns on nearby dunes and a thin layer of frost covering the ground. This is the fourth time Ain Sefra has experienced snow in the last few decades—making it a rare scientific event, but not entirely out of place. Temperatures reportedly dipped to -2°C in the region.

snowfall in sahara desert rare photos

Karim Bouchetata, a North African photographer, captured the event in great detail, with his photos soon going viral. Check out his full album with 25+ pictures here. In case all don’t appear here, click on the blue Facebook icon on the top right:

تقاسيم ..17 01 2021
Frost paints beautiful paintings of the ain sefra dunes Algeria
#اكتشف #الجزائر

Posted by Karim Bouchetata on Sunday, 17 January 2021

Over 6,000 years ago, the Sahara was a giant stretch of tropical grassland, receiving regular rainfall to keep it green. It’s not entirely clear why it transformed into a desert, but as climate change brings unforeseen changes in weather, towns bordering the desert may face more meteorological surprises. 

Locals flock to enjoy snow in Saudi Arabia

Continuing this freak weather phenomenon are Saudi Arabia’s Aseer and Tabuk regions, where residents gathered to witness snowfall after 50 years. Northern parts of Tabuk experienced a ‘polar wave’ last week, which eventually led to a blanketing of white in the region.

Social media is bubbling with pictures of families building snowmen or enjoying qahwa (Arabic coffee) in these new-found surroundings. Seeing camels relax against this backdrop was another amusing sight. Spectacular drone videos added to the awe:

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