As one of the hottest places on earth, the Sahara desert is probably one of the last places you’d expect to see snow. And yet, for the second time in two years, winter has come once again to the dunes. According to The Independent, the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria, which is also known as “The Gateway to the Desert,” experienced snowfall in the early hours of Sunday morning. In some parts of the Sahara, the snow was as deep as 15 inches, while CNN reports that the town itself experienced less than one inch of snow.

The last time this happened was in 2016, when the residents of Ain Sefra experienced a freak snowfall that made for some splendid photographs. Prior to that, Ain Sefra had not seen snow since 1979, when a half-hour snowstorm was so bad it reportedly stopped traffic in town.

Snow in the Sahara Desert

Geoff Robinson/REX/Shutterstock; Snowfall in the Sahara desert.

But despite its rarity, snowfall in the Sahara is not as surprising as you might think, according to a spokesperson for the Met Office, the U.K.’s national weather service, interviewed in The Independent. “It seems like the snowy pictures were taken across the higher areas in the north of the region, towards the Atlas regions, so it’s not surprising that the area would see some snow if the conditions were right,” she told the outlet. “With the setup over Europe at the moment, which has given us cold weather over the weekend, a push southwards of cold air into that region and some sort of moisture would bring that snow.”

Even when there isn’t snow, the region can get remarkably cold. The “hottest places on earth” moniker applies mostly in the summer, when temperatures can get higher than 122 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, though, the Sahara can get as cold as 13 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Independent.

 Posted from Conde Nast Traveler