While the eastern United States was hunkering down in an exceptionally cold Arctic blast this past weekend, another part of the world, much less familiar with winter, braced for similar weather on Sunday — the Sahara Desert.
The freak snow shower coated the giant sandy dunes of the Sahara, known first and foremost for its deadly, suffocating heat. The closest town, Ain Sefra, Algeria, hadn’t seen snow in nearly 40 years until it happened for the first time this century in 2017. Even more odd, now, is the fact that it snowed two years in a row.
In 1979, a similar snowstorm lasted about 30 minutes. The winter storms in Algeria, they are short.
The area has a searingly hot average high temperature of 100 degrees in the summer. But like many deserts, it gets kind of chilly in the winter, especially at night. The average December high temperature is only about 50, with average lows in the upper 30s.
Interestingly, the cold air that enabled this snow to fall came from the same cold-air outbreak we saw in the eastern United States in late December. Simply because of winds that blow from west to east, the air over the United States eventually winds up in northern Africa.
Even so, it’s strange to see a winter weather warning for Algeria posted on Facebook. Meteo Algerie was predicting about four to six inches of snow in the provinces of Naama and El Bayadh.
The Algerian weather service called it “special.”