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Sahara desert: Rare snowfall leaves extraordinary pattern on sand dunes

Sahara desert

Snow has fallen in the Sahara desert after temperatures dropped to -3C (27F).

Karim Bouchetata recorded the rare event in Ain Sefra, Algeria, with thawing ice creating beautiful patterns on the sand.

The Sahara desert, which covers most of Northern Africa, has gone through shifts in temperature over the past few hundred thousand years – but snow and ice are still very rare.

The town in the Naama province has experienced snow only three other times in 42 years – in 1979, 2017 and 2018.

Sahara desert

In 1979, a snowstorm was severe enough to stop traffic; while in 2017 a blizzard dumped snow up to a metre thick. In 2018 there was 40cm (15in) of snow.

Ain Sefra – known as “the gateway to the desert” – is around 1,000m above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

Sahara desert

January is one of the coldest months there with an average temperature of 14C (57F). In the summer this reaches, on average, 38C (100F).

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