2018 has gotten off to a frigid start. First, Winter Storm Grayson covered the South in ice and snow — yes, even Florida, y’all — and now, it has even snowed in the Sahara Desert.
A cold spell hit the area of Aïn Séfra in northern Algeria, known as “the gateway to the desert,” and on the morning of Jan. 7, snow began to fall. According to the World Weather & Climate Information website, the coolest month of the year in Aïn Séfra is January, but with average temperatures of 99 degrees Fahrenheit in the hottest months, the area is hardly equipped for snow.
Nevertheless, snow in this area is “unusual but not unheard of,” a spokeswoman for the Met Office told The Independent. “It seems like the snowy pictures were taken across the higher areas in the north of the region, towards the Atlas regions, so it’s not surprising that the area would see some snow if the conditions were right,” she said.
It really is a quite the sight to see these dunes covered in white:
The most recent snowfall makes this the third time in 37 years that scientists have recorded the sand dunes being covered in powdered snow. The previous instances that were recorded occurred in 1979 and December 2016, as shown below captured via satellite.
The New York Times noted that the Sahara is actually larger than the United States—it covers the entire northern portion of Africa—so it is possible it has experienced snowfall at other points, but it hasn’t been seen by humans.
Anyone who got to see the snowfall was lucky, as the mix of orange sand and white powder is breathtaking! Apparently, the snow wasn’t around for long, although it was nice while it lasted. Temperatures reportedly rose to 42 degrees by the afternoon, not giving the locals much time to enjoy this rare occasion.
According to Forbes, children still had some time to go play in the snow. They went sledding and built snowmen.
One local from the area, Kamel Sekkouri, told The New York Times, the scene was “incredible, unbelievable, magical, sensational.” He continued, “When you walk in the snowy dunes, you feel like you are in Mars or Uranus.”
Can you imagine?