Snowfall creates unique tiger-striped pattern in desert
Snowfall in a desert? It’s not too unusual in this notably cold landscape, and weather conditions were just right for this stunning spectacle to take shape.
Snow covering sand dunes in the Kumtag Desert in northwestern China resembled a tiger skin in this dramatic drone footage taken on Feb. 26, 2022.
Recent drone footage captured in China’s Kumtag Desert, located in Shanshan County in northwestern China approximately 1,550 miles west of Beijing, created quite a roar with its flashy colorization. The desert is known for its wide array of sand dunes, with "Kumtag" translating into "sand mountain" in a number of languages.
On Feb. 26, the Kumtag’s terrain featured fallen snow melting, making the sand dunes visible amid the snow. The unique view resembles the skin of a tiger, with the white snow giving way to stripes of desert sand.
According to AccuWeather Senior Commodity Meteorologist Dale Mohler, the striped pattern was formed by recent snowfall that was sculpted by wind and sand dunes. Wind blowing snow off the top of dunes exposed the tan-colored sand underneath, with the wind-blown snow “filling in” spots on the downwind side of the dunes.
“This does not appear to be anything unusual as far as the amount of snowfall or the wind speed, but it does show that Mother Nature can be quite an artist, even with little to work with,” Mohler said.
While normal precipitation is low in the desert, likely less than five inches yearly, according to AccuWeather experts, below-freezing temperatures in the Kumtag region allow fallen snow to stick to the ground for longer.
The Kumtag is situated at a similar latitude to that of Pennsylvania, with four seasons of temperature patterns, making snow part of the local climate in the winter months. The desert is part of the larger Taklamakan desert region, and temperatures can dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit during winter.
This is not the first time the Kumtag has experienced this unique landscape. Photos captured the region covered in snow during this past November.
The system that unloaded the snowfall was likely similar to clippers, which are moisture-starved storms originating from western Canada, and may drop light snow across portions of the northern United States. AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said that the snow likely fell on Feb. 17, when the morning low dropped to 17 degrees and the high temperature was 22 degrees in Ürümqi, China, a city that lies about 170 miles to the northwest of the desert.
Due to a stretch of freezing weather in the region that week, the cold allowed the snow to stick around and create the beautiful spectacle.
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