The mountains of Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine have been splashed with color, as the region’s snow has taken on an unusual orange hue. Although the snow may look more like orange sherbet, observers are advised to not eat it. The strange color has been added to the snow by way of the Sahara Desert. While the mountains may present an otherworldly aesthetic, the phenomenon is actually quite normal and occurs every five years, according to meteorologists. Sand turned up by storms in the Sahara Desert flows north and mixes with snow and rain, turning the subsequent precipitation orange.

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The orange tint has not been confined to the mountains. On its way towards the high-altitude locations of Eastern Europe, the orange dust passed through the Mediterranean, where it added an orange filter to the air in places like the Greek island of Crete. While this is not the first instance in which Saharan sand has affected European weather, it is one of the most intense examples of the phenomenon. The displaced dust can even be seen from space, appearing as a narrow brown streak amidst the usual white and grey clouds.

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“Looking at satellite imagery from [NASA], it shows a lot of sand and dust in the atmosphere drifting across the Mediterranean,” Steven Keates, a meteorologist with the U.K.’s National Weather Service, told the Washington Post. “When it rains or snows, it drags down whatever is up there, if there is sand in the atmosphere.” Previous incidents involving orange-tinted, dust-induced weird weather in Europe include a 2016 event in which northwest Europe experienced an orange sky. Visible in London, the phenomenon was exacerbated by wildfires raging in Spain and Portugal at the time. Now, those fortunate enough to be in the mountains can enjoy the emulated experience of “skiing on Mars.”

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Via Washington Post

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