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North America's hottest desert sees first snowfall in decades in shocking image

North America's hottest desert sees first snowfall in decades in shocking image

The photographer had to be quick, as it only settled for around four hours

An extraordinary image has emerged showing North America's hottest desert blanketed in snow after the region saw its first snowfall in decades.

Known as the Desierto de Altar, the Sonoran Desert is famous for its arid landscape and hot and dry atmosphere.

The region covers 120,000 square miles in the northwestern Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur, as well as part of the southwestern US including Arizona and California.

Considering it's the hottest desert in both countries, with summer temperatures often reaching 48°C, it's no surprise that it rarely sees any frosty weather.

But this all changed with the event of a brutal winter storm that swept through southern California and Arizona earlier this year.

In a rare weather switch up, parts of the former state including the mountains of Los Angeles were issued with the first blizzard warning since 1989.

The huge storm creeped over to the Sonoran Desert where parts were covered in up to 10 centimetres of snow.

Though it only settled for approximately four hours, thankfully photographer Jack Dykinga, who has been capturing snaps of the desert since 1976, was on the ground.

One of the stunning images that has been doing the rounds online shows the contrast of tall, green cacti amongst the white, cold ground.

It's not often you see thick snow in the desert.
Jack Dykinga/Nature Picture Library

Dykinga told NewScientist that snow hasn't fallen in the region in 10 years, making the moment all the more special.

Though he felt 'pure joy and wonder', these emotions were mixed with 'anxiety' as he knew he didn't have long to capture the scenes on camera before it melted.

"It’s very rare to see this amount," he said. "In the southwest desert in a long drought period, it’s a time to celebrate!"

Earlier this month, numerous people took to social media to express their shock at the unexpected weather change.

As said by one on Twitter: "Cacti in the Sonoran desert, Arizona, are topped with snow in what meteorologists described as a 'once in a generation' event.

Other visitors captured their own shots of the unusual setting.

"The desert, which was full of flowers, had between two and four inches of snow over a few hours."

"Sonoran Desert looks beautiful in snow," said another, while a third added, "We were just there and lucky enough to see a bit of snow on the saguaros. The Sonoran Desert is magical."

A fourth who shared their own snap of the event noted: "Snow in the Sonoran Desert. I was there a week and had the time of my life."

Featured Image Credit: Larry Geddis/Alamy Stock Photo/Jack Dykinga/Nature Picture Library

Topics: US News, Weather, Photography