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The New Arab

Saudi Arabia's deserts freeze after freak snowstorm

Should Saudis become more accustomed to seeing snow in the desert? [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 January, 2016

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Unusual weather conditions have brought snow, heavy rainfall and frosty temperatures once again to Saudi Arabia, as severe weather conditions are increasingly becoming the norm in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia is experiencing a rare cold snap that has bringing snowfall to deserts in the northe and east of the country.

Tabuk, al-Jouf, Hail, Qassim and the Eastern Province have all enjoyed sub-zero temperatures, and meteorologists expect to cold weather to continue for the coming weeks.

Riyadh and parts of Qassim are likely to experience record lows in the next few days, The Saudi Gazette reported. 

Strong winds, rainfall and even snowfall, especially in the northern regions, are also expected.

To some, the cold spell is reminscent of the winter of 2008, which was the coldest in recent memory when the temperature dropped to -10 degrees in some provinces, and -5 in Riyadh.

The average low temperature in the Saudi capital is 11 degrees this time of the year.

Although these weather conditions are unusual in the kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula, climate change and other weather-related phenomena are making extreme weather the "new normal".
 
In January last year, snow swept across much of the northern regions of the Arabian Peninsula, where temperatures in some areas reached -6 degrees Celsius.

Flash floods from heavy rainfall are also becoming routine occurences in a region that is generally dry and does not see much precipitation.

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