Thoughts of the holiday season — especially during the month of December — bring up images of snow. People love snow. There's something about that white fluffy stuff that can bring smiles to people's faces everywhere — even if some parts of the world are not lucky enough to experience it. Except this holiday season, it actually is snowing in one of the hottest places in the world — the Sahara desert. But why is it snowing in the Sahara desert? Because climate change and evolving weather patterns are actually a thing.
For the first time in 37 years, snow has fallen in the town of Ain Sefra located in Algeria, where part of the Saharan desert is located. The last time it snowed in the Sahara desert was in 1979, according to CNN. But the snow in the Saharan desert was not the kind of stuff some children dream of. Instead, a light coating of ice and snow flakes merely touched the surface of the desert's orange mountains. But just because there was not that much snow does not mean that this is anything short of a Christmas-time miracle. According to CNN, the Sahara desert the world's largest hot desert — therefore, any amount of snow in the Sahara is an incredible sight.
To put this into perspective, the Sahara desert is one of the hottest and driest places in the world — according to CNN temperatures there can reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit. But it can also maintain cold enough temperatures to be able to allow snow to fall. So what kind of science and holiday magic allows for it to snow in one of the hottest places in the world?
According to NBC News, a strong polar front from the Mediterranean was able to "push past the Atlas Mountains near the coast of Algeria" and make its way to the Sahara desert. But according to NBC News, snow in the Sahara only happens "about once a decade." The Weather Channel meteorologist Kait Parker further explains the phenomena:
Although the air is dry and evaporative to the extreme, in the winter polar fronts from the Mediterranean can occasionally produce rain and in this case, snow. It is not unusual for temperatures to dip below freezing in the winter.
In addition, The Washington Post's Jason Samenow, a meteorologist, editor and former climate change science analyst for the U.S. government, explained Wednesday that "weather map analysis from Monday shows that temperatures in the area were roughly 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal when the snow occurred." And even though the Sahara desert is one of the hottest, driest places in the world, it can get a little cold in December. The average high temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately for the 35,000 residents of Ain Sefra, the snow lasted one day before melting, according to The Post.
Call it a holiday miracle — but know that it snowed in one of the hottest and driest places in the world because of wild weather patterns. Not because global warming or science are fake.