The Sahara desert is bigger than the entire United States. That, to me, is incredible.
But today, I found out that there’s something more incredible than the size of the Sahara: Someone recently found snow falling on sand dunes there.
In a northeastern Algerian town called Ain Serra, or “The Gateway to the Sahara,” photographer Karin Bouchetata captured the snow placed delicately on top of orange sand dunes. He told Gizmodo he was “stunned” to see white powder in the desert, calling it “an incredibly rare occurrence.” And he’s not kidding when he says that it’s rare.
The last major snowfall came on February 18, 1979, when snow fell for about 30 minutes. Traffic came to a complete stop, as drivers were surprised by the snow.
Since that day 37 years ago, there have been some instances of “snow” in the Sahara in 2005 and 2012, but they were considered light dustings. Nothing like the snow that partially covered an entire section of the desert.
The scene didn’t last long, as the snow reportedly melted off the next day.
The town of Ain Serra, which is 1,000 feet above sea level, is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains. The range receives some snowfall and lots of rainfall each year in higher elevations. There is even enough snow at times for people to ski a portion of the mountains that is in Algeria.
But there is no explanation as to why it snowed in Ain Serra, the largest hot desert on the planet. What we do know though is that it looks beautiful when it snows in the Sahara.
Bouchetata’s pictures have been compared to an orange creamsicle. Personally, I think these photos could have been inspirations for Bob Ross. I can see him now, painting “happy trees” along the foreground, with snow-capped orange sand dunes in the background.