The Sahara Desert — the world’s hottest — has been hit by snow for only the second time in four decades.
Photographers have taken incredible pictures of 18-inch deep snow covering the sand in the small North African desert town of Ain Sefra after a freak winter storm on Sunday.
The town had not seen snow for 37 years when it arrived this time last year — and locals were stunned when it began falling on the red sand dunes on Sunday morning.
It comes as as much of the northern hemisphere sees record cold temperatures.
Snow started falling in the early hours of Sunday and it quickly began settling on the sand.
Photographer Karim Bouchetata said: “We were really surprised when we woke up to see snow again. It stayed all day on Sunday and began melting at around 5pm.”
Last year, the town, known as “The Gateway to the Desert,” saw deep snow shortly after Christmas and it caused chaos, with passengers stranded on buses after the roads became slippery and icy.
Children made snowmen and even sledged on the sand dunes.
Before that, snow was last seen in Ain Sefra on February 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour.
A spokesman for the Met Office said this morning: “Cold air was pulled down south into North Africa over the weekend as a result of high pressure over Europe.
“Ain Sefra is around 1,000 metres above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.”
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.
Although the Sahara is very dry today, it is expected to become green again in about 15,000 years.
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