Snow fell Tuesday in the Sahara Desert in western Algeria. A 24-hour cold spell brought snow and rain to the region. Strong wind blew the snow across roads and buildings in the province of Bechar. Meteorologists predicted a return of good weather Wednesday. People who live in the region said the snow was good for the palm trees because it killed parasites. Bechar is located in the northern Sahara, about 36 miles south of the Moroccan border…(9News)
“On February 18, 1979, snow fell in several places in southern Algeria, including a half-hour snowstorm that stopped traffic in Ghardaïa, and was reported as being “for the first time in living memory”. The snow was gone within hours. Several Saharan mountain ranges, however, receive snow on a more regular basis. Although relative humidity is low in the arid environment, the absolute humidity is sufficiently high for moisture to condense when driven up a mountain range. In winter, temperatures drop low enough on the Tahat summit to cause snow on average every three years; the Tibesti Mountains receive snow on peaks over 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) once every 7 years.”
EARTH-DIRECTED SOLAR FLARE: Active sunspot 1402 erupted today, Jan. 19th, between 15:15 and 16:30 UT. The long-duration blast produced an M3-class solar flare and a CME that appears to be heading toward Earth. This movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the extreme UV flash:
NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft recorded an impressive CME emerging from the blast site: movie #1, movie #2. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab confirm that the CME is heading for Earth, and they say strong geomagnetic storms are possible (although not guaranteed) when the cloud arrives this weekend. Theiranimated forecast track predicts an impact on Jan. 21st at 22:30 UT (+/- 7 hrs). Aurora alerts: text, voice.
INCREASING SOLAR ACTIVITY CLEANS UP SAT-DEBRIS: Earth’s atmosphere has been puffing up in response to increasing levels of UV radiation from sunspots. This is good news for satellite operators, because a puffed up atmosphere helps clean up low-Earth orbit. “The number of cataloged debris in Earth orbit actually decreased during 2011,” reports Nick Johnson in NASA’s Orbital Debris Quarterly newsletter.