Rare snow covers sand dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria

Rare snow covers sand dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria

Residents of a small Saharan desert town of Aïn Séfra in Algerian Naâma Province experienced a rare phenomenon for their region on December 19, 2016 when the sand around their town was covered in a thin layer of snow. Contrary to most media reports, it was not only the second Saharan snow in living memory.

According to the photographer Karim Bouchateta, who took the images below, residents were surprised by the rare snowfall on December 19. "Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert. It is such a rare occurrence," Bouchetata said.

"It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand and made a great set of photos. The snow stayed for about a day and has now melted away," he added.

The phenomenon was not seen in the region since 2013, the TSA Algerie reports.

Snow in Ain Sefra, Algeria on December 19, 2016

Snow in Aïn Séfra, Algeria on December 19, 2016. Photo by Karim Bouchetata

Snow in Ain Sefra, Algeria on December 19, 2016

Snow in Aïn Séfra, Algeria on December 19, 2016. Photo by Karim Bouchetata

Snow in Ain Sefra, Algeria on December 19, 2016

Snow in Aïn Séfra, Algeria on December 19, 2016. Photo by Karim Bouchetata

Snow in Ain Sefra, Algeria on December 19, 2016

​Snow in Aïn Séfra, Algeria on December 19, 2016. Photo by Karim Bouchetata

Aïn Sefra, known as "The Gateway to the Desert" is a town, and municipality, in western Algeria.

It is situated in the Saharan Atlas Mountains, 45 km (28 miles) east of the border with Morocco. The town lies in a broad valley between Mount Aïssa and Mount Mekter.

Contrary to many media reports, snow in this region is not that extremely rare, and it's certainly not the first time it snowed in Aïn Séfra since 1979.

That year, snow was indeed reported in Algeria, and it seems it was the first in living memory, but to the surprise of many, it happened in the country's south, far away from Aïn Séfra.

As reported by LiveScience, on February 18, 1979, low altitude areas of the Sahara desert recorded their first snowfall in living memory. Snow fell in spots in southern Algeria, where a half-hour snowstorm stopped traffic. Several Saharan mountain ranges, however, receive snow on a more regular basis.

"In winter, temperatures drop low enough on the Tahat summit, the highest mountain peak in Algeria, to cause snow about every three years. The Tibesti Mountains, in northern Chad, receive snow on peaks over 2.5 km (8 202 feet) once every seven years on average. 

Suomi NPP satellite image of Europe and northern Africa on December 19, 2016

Suomi NPP image acquired December 19, 2016. Credit: NASA/NOAA/Dod

Featured image: Snow in Aïn Séfra, Algeria on December 19, 2016. Photo by Karim Bouchetata

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