Extremely Rare Event Of Snowfall In The Sahara Desert Leaves Its Sand Dunes With A Blanket Of Snow

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Life by Paige Cerulli on 01/12/2018

Snow generally isn’t something you envision when you picture the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is hot and dry, and is known for its miles and miles of sand. What most people don’t realize, though, is that there is a little more life than that. The Nile Valley features areas of lush vegetation, and precipitation does fall in the area a number of times each year.

But, that precipitation usually isn’t snow.

In the end of 2016, snow did fall in the Sahara for the first time since 1979. That extremely rare event has happened again, with some local residents reporting as much snow as 16 inches. It completely transformed the look of the sand dunes into something more like snow-capped mountains.

The snow didn’t last long, melting away within a few hours as the temperatures rose. The Atlas Mountains did retain their snowy peaks a little bit longer.

All three times that it snowed in the Sahara, the affected area was Ain Sefra. Ain Sefra is a town that’s a kilometer above sea level. Referred to as the Gateway to the Desert, this town’s higher elevation increases the chance of it receiving snow, but still, the snow is rare.

The area is arid, with minimal precipitation and high average temperatures. These conditions make the chance of snow occurring pretty rare.

While the area temperatures can get below freezing during the winter, for snow to occur you’ll need a mass of water that’s been evaporated.

This year’s Sahara snow was the result of a large air mass that traveled from North America across the Atlantic, eventually reaching the Sahara. The air mass caused the temperatures in the Sahara to drop to 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit, making for prime snowfall conditions.

Will snow in the Sahara become a recurring event? It’s hard to say, but given that it’s only happened three times in multiple decades, this unusual event is certainly worth noting.

( H/T iflscience.com )

Do you think that we’ll continue to see snow in the Sahara in the future?

 
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