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Not even the Sahara desert is safe from winter’s icy tendrils. On 7 January, the dunes near the northern Algerian town of Aïn Séfra were blanketed with snow, which lay up to 40cm deep in some places.
“In the Sahara, temperatures at night can drop below freezing, but the air is usually too dry for precipitation,” says Amanda Maycock, associate professor in climate dynamics at the University of Leeds. “In early January, a cold front from a weather system over the western Mediterranean Sea extended southwards over Algeria. This region of cold, dry air met another sector of warmer, moist air, creating the perfect conditions for snow.”
Wintry weather in the northern Sahara is rare, but not unheard of – this is the third time snow has fallen in the region in nearly 40 years. Pictures on social media showed locals sliding down the snow-clad slopes on their stomachs. But the fun was short-lived: most of it had melted away by the end of the following day.