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Snow Where? Town on Edge of Sahara Desert Gets Flakes for First Time in 37 Years

Snow in the Sahara Desert, Ain Sefra, Algeria - 20 Dec 2016
Snow in the Sahara desert near the town of Ain Sefra, Algeria Dec 20.Geoff Robinson Photography / Photography/REX/Shutterstock
/ Source: NBC News

Bright orange sand in the Sahara Desert was dusted in a layer of snow earlier this week after a strong polar front from the Mediterranean pushed past the Atlas Mountains near the coast of Algeria.

Pictures taken by Karim Bouchetata, who lives in Ain Sefra, Algeria, show the "Gateway to the Desert" town with an unusual coat of fresh powder. The photos show a rare dusting of desert snow, but Weather Channel experts said the occurrence happens about once a decade.

“Although the air is dry and evaporative to an extreme, in the winter strong polar fronts from the Mediterranean can occasionally produce rain, and, in this case, snow," explained's Kait Parker. "It is not unusual for temperatures to dip below freezing in the winter."

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Other parts of the Sahara received a layer of snow in 2005 and 2012, but the last time it snowed in Ain Sefra was 1979, according to Parker.

Ain Sefra, which is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, is about 3,500 feet above sea level. Parker said that in addition to creating a stunning view, the snow helps the town eliminate parasites.

Snow in the Sahara desert near the town of Ain Sefra, Algeria Dec 20. Snow was last seen in Ain Sefra, known as "The Gateway to the Desert," on February 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour. This time the snow stayed for a day in the town, which is around 1000 meters above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.Geoff Robinson Photography / REX/Shutterstock