More than a foot of snow fell on the Sahara on Sunday, shrouding the orange and red landscape in hues of white. The rare scene didn’t last long, but luckily, a local photographer had his camera ready.
For a few fleeting hours Sunday, people perched in the arid heights of northwest Algeria caught sight of something rarely seen: the Sahara Desert, shrouded in white. Residents of Ain Sefra, a small town surrounded by the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, walked outside to find a dusting of snow underfoot — and more than a foot of it crowding the town’s outer boundaries.
While it’s not unheard of — snow visited this landscape in December 2016, after all — the wintry weather is indeed rare for the region: As NPR’s Maggie Penman pointed out at the time, the last major snowfall in Ain Sefra before that happened back in 1979.
But, as Forbes noted, the unlikely winter wonderland was not alone in experiencing extreme weather this past week — and indeed, it came about because of odd patterns elsewhere:
Still, the scene Sunday was not to last.
By late afternoon, the dunes’ blazing orange and red had reasserted themselves over the surrounding palette, as rising temperatures forced the snow to give way again to sand.
Luckily for some residents, that vanishing act was not too fast to sneak in a quick sledding session. And luckily for us, local photographer Karim Bouchetata managed to capture the moment forever for folks who happened not to catch it in person.
Here are some of those photographs.