Snow in the Sahara Desert
Image acquired January 8th, 2018 NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

It is quite a time for weird weather. On January 7th, snow fell in one of the hottest places on Earth, blanketing the Sahara Desert north of Algeria’s city of Ain Sefra.

Ain Sefra got a couple centimeters of snow on Sunday. It clung to the dunes for an hour and a half before melting. The Atlas Mountains that ring the town saw snow stick around a bit longer according to Zinnadine Hashas, a local photographer who captured the scenes. The average low in January for this region is usually  12.4°C according to records from the German weather service.

In the recent past snow has fallen on January 21. 2017, December 2016 and January 2012. Before that, the most recent snowfall in this region appears to have occurred in February 1979.

The Sahara is one of the driest and hottest places on earth, reaching extreme highs of up to 47°C. That makes enough moisture there for snowfall a rarity. But a high pressure system moving through Europe pushed cold air farther south than usual and into North Africa, which caused an unusual cold snap in the desert.

All images by Zinnedine Hashas