The Sahara Desert: hot, dry, barren, scorching…snowy? That’s right. You might have seen the photos floating around of a snowy Sahara desert, a gorgeous white against the red of the sands. These are indeed real; snow has mixed with the sandy landscape to create something breathtaking.
We associate deserts with heat in general, but the term desert actually generally refers to the level of precipitation (which would, of course, be low). There are both “cold deserts” (such as polar regions) and “hot deserts.” The Sahara is an example of a hot desert. In fact, it’s the world’s largest hot desert, covering a huge section of northern Africa.
Parts of the Sahara Desert are some of the hottest areas on our planet. According to some sources, there is a section of the Sahara that has been recorded at around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (or 58 degrees Celsius)!
The Sahara undoubtedly has very warm days. Another part of what makes snow such an unusual sight there is that the desert is so dry and arid it wouldn’t usually support snowfall even if it got cold enough.
All this information on the nature of the Sahara and hot deserts should have you in a place to understand how much of a surprise it was for people to get a peek at the snow that covered the dunes recently. The snow fell in a municipality of Algeria that is in the desert called Aïn Séfra, which is sometimes termed “The Gateway to the Desert”
In the midst of all the weird weather we’ve been receiving, snow in the Sahara seems a fun diversion, surely nicer than the reports of frozen iguanas falling out of Florida trees.
Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened. There are some sources reporting that this is the first snow in the area in 40 years. This is inaccurate, however. In actuality, there was an even larger amount of snowfall at around this time last year, in the very same Algerian municipality. That snow was reportedly up to a meter thick in some places.
It may even snow in the Sahara more often than we are aware of. The desert itself is huge, totaling around 3.5 million square miles in area. There are chances that flurries or some light snowfall occur without any one person around to catch sight of it.
Just because this event isn’t as unusual as some sources are reporting, doesn’t mean it isn’t very uncommon. It is certainly a beautiful and rare sight to see the desert dunes blanketed by snow. It doesn’t have to be the first time in decades to be a truly wonderful spectacle for those there to view it.