A rare blanket of snow descended earlier this month on the usually sun-scorched sand dunes of the Sahara Desert.
Residents in the northern Algerian town of Ain Sefra flopped around in a dusting of the white powder during an unusual Jan. 6 snowfall, which melted later in the day even as temperatures dropping below 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ain Sefra is called the gateway to the Sahara Desert, where temperatures routinely crack 95 degrees Fahrenheit during summer months. Frigid temperatures in this stretch of the Sahara are rare but not completely out of the ordinary – Ain Sefra lies between the desert and the Atlas Mountains.
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Sahara saw snow in 2016 as well, but it had been nearly 40 years since snow last fell in Ain Sefra before that time. The small area is 3,280 feet above sea level and is nestled between the flat, dry desert and a thick range of mountains in Northern Africa.
The Sahara Desert has gone through seismic temperature and moisture shifts during the last several hundred years. It is expected to look greener over the next 15,000 years, thanks to natural shifts in climate.
African deserts are not the only spots to see layers of snow, of course. Snowstorms and frigid temperatures pounded most of the U.S. shortly after Christmas Day. A Pennsylvania county was clobbered with 60 inches of snow in two days after the holiday – the storm shattered records and required the National Guard to help keep the roads clear and residents safe.