Photos Show Sahara Desert Covered in 16 Inches of Snow in Freak Storm [VIDEO]

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The Sahara isn’t known for wild winter sports. The huge shifting dunes got some rare precipitation this week, though, and it wasn’t rain. Some ares saw as much as 16 inches of snow. The frosty white desert is the result of a freak winter storm that blanketed the red dunes.

“This is the third time in 37 years that the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria has seen snow,” the Daily Mail writes.

The snow started falling Sunday. The sand was cold enough for the snow to stick and not instantly melt.

Photographer Karim Bouchetata told the Daily Mail about the freak weather. “We were really surprised when we woke up to see snow again. It stayed all day on Sunday and began melting at around 5pm.”

Snow in this part of the world is more chaotic than snow in the American South. Roads get slick, buses and cars get stuck. Few local motorists have any experience with the conditions.

Previous snow storms have been more fleeting. “Snow was last seen in Ain Sefra on February 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour,” the Mail notes.

It seems the cold spell that was gripping most of the United States was part of a larger pattern of Arctic air that was moving toward the equator. The snow seen in north Florida was simply part of a larger pattern that brought snow to much of the tropics.

“The Sahara Desert covers most of Northern Africa and it has gone through shifts in temperature and moisture over the past few hundred thousand years,” the Mail concludes. Still, snow is far from typical.