Picture this; you are standing in the middle of the Sahara Desert. You look north, all you see is mounds after mounds of sand dunes to the horizon. That is the sight that meets your eyes when you turn south, west or east. A picturesque moment no doubt, but what if you now see snow covering those sand dunes?
You will say that only happens in the movies, and ordinarily, you will be right. Except there is a little town on the edges of the Sahara desert called Aïn Séfra that received about 40 cm of snow. It is good to point out that snow is quite rare in Africa, even in places that have cold weather. For a town on the edges of one of the hottest places on Earth to get snow, it is guaranteed to make headlines around the world.
Aïn Séfra received snowfalls last week. The snow covered the sand dunes transforming the landscape into a scene to behold. However, the beautiful scenery melted away as soon as the temperature returned to their usual ‘baking high’ levels.
There are also independent reports that say back in 1979; the area was hit by a snowstorm lasting half an hour. Barely two years ago, the area received another snowfall, and it lasted for about a day before melting away. Snow falls in this area is a rare occurrence, and each time, it makes heads turn.
Speculations are suggesting the Sahara Desert does get snowfall now and then. However, due to the vastness of the area, and the scarce concentration of human settlement spread out in the fringes of the desert. Most of the time, the snowfall goes unnoticed.
Geologist Stefan Kröpelin, from the University of Cologne, Germany who has been doing some research in the Sahara, was quoted in the New York Times saying the problem with Sahara is not the temperature, but the humidity.
“The Sahara is as large as the United States, and there are very few weather stations. So it’s ridiculous to say that this is the first, second, third time it snowed, as nobody would know how many times it has snowed in the past unless they were there,” said Kröpelin.
A local resident told New York Times that this was his fifth-time people are seeing snowfall in the Aïn Séfra region. The fact-checking website, Snopes, says Aïn Séfra has had snowfalls in the past, bringing international media attention to the little town lying on the fringes of the Sahara desert. Most people find snowfall in the desert strange because they have the assumption that of a place with high average temperature, while it should be the lack of precipitation. Did you know the south and north pole are just deserts as well?