These Photos of Snow in the Sahara Look Like Something Out of Star Wars

Travelers and locals in Ain Sefra, Algeria, were treated to an unlikely sight on Sunday, when their corner of the Sahara desert was covered in a blanket of fresh white snow. Sixteen inches fell from the sky and turned the region’s red sand dunes into an otherworldly landscape, and one rarely found in Earth’s hottest desert.

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Snow in the Sahara is considered extremely unusual—the storm marks just the third time in 40 years that snow has been recorded in the area. According to a spokesman for the U.K.’s national weather service, the Met Office, a high pressure system over Europe was to blame. “Cold air was pulled down south in to North Africa,” he told the Daily Mail. “The high pressure meant the cold weather extended further south than normal.”

By evening the snow had already begun melting, but not before photographers were able to capture some incredible images, below.

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