No, the photos and videos haven’t been edited by the latest Instagram filter or otherwise digitally manipulated. Orange-tinted snow did blanket parts of Eastern Europe on Friday and over the weekend, creating eerie post-apocalyptic scenes and baffling people in countries such as Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, the BBC reported.
Documentation of the strange snow appeared all over social media, with some making jokes about “skiing on Mars,” according to CNN.
While orange snow seems unearthly, meteorologists said the phenomenon occurs about every five years and that this instance was caused by sand from storms in the Sahara mixing with snow and rain, according to the BBC.
Unlike past occurrences, however, the concentrations of sand are much higher this time, with people even complaining of getting it in their mouths, the BBC reported.
In a satellite image from NASA taken Friday, the dust was visible as a light brown streak staining the white clouds above Eastern Europe, according to the Weather Channel.
Steven Keates, a meteorologist with the United Kingdom’s National Weather Service, known as the Met Office, told the Independent that sand can spread once it reaches the upper levels of the atmosphere.
“Looking at satellite imagery from [NASA], it shows a lot of sand and dust in the atmosphere drifting across the Mediterranean,” Keates said. “When it rains or snows, it drags down whatever is up there, if there is sand in the atmosphere.”