Snow fell in Saudi Arabia and Algeria at the weekend as temperatures plummeted to below freezing. Residents of the southern Aseer region in the Kingdom also saw an extremely rare snowfall on Thursday when temperatures dropped as low as minus 2o Celsius in the mountainous region, the lowest recorded level in half a century.
Local residents and foreigners rushed to the area to see the snow-covered desert and surrounding hills, reported GeoNews. Camels were pictured standing in heavy drifts of snow in the area around Aseer.
Saudi Arabians living in Tabuk close to border with Jordan have also reported unusual weather patterns this month. January is normally the coldest month in Saudi Arabia, with temperatures hovering around an average of 20oC. In Tabuk, however, they tend to fall to an average of 4oC during the winter months.
In North Africa, meanwhile, snow has also fallen in the north-western Algerian desert town of Ain Sefra. Photographer Karim Bouchetata captured the stunning sight of Saharan sand dunes covered in a thin layer of snow.
Temperatures in the town, known as the "Gateway to the Desert" due to its position in the Atlas Mountains almost 1,000 metres above sea level, dropped to minus 3oC on Wednesday. Ain Sefra also reported snow in 2018, for the third time in 40 years.
Snow is extremely rare in deserts, though not completely unknown. High pressure systems of cool air move over the deserts, picking up moisture on the way and causing very low temperatures.
Although desert snow usually melts very quickly, the freezing temperatures in Saudi Arabia and Algeria have meant that it has lasted longer than usual.
Last year, snow fell in Baghdad for only the second time this century. The last recorded snowfall in the city was in 2008, but many residents said it was the first time they had ever seen snow. The people of Baghdad are more used to heat than cold, experiencing temperatures of up 50oC during the summer months.