Does it snow in Saudi Arabia?
Officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the monarchical form of its government, Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula and the second largest in the Arab world, stands as the country with the highest level of oil export and the second with the highest reserve levels of oil in the world.
During the early twentieth century, several geologists stated that it was unlikely that there were deposits under the Arabian desert. However, after the discovery of the first oil well in 1938, Saudi Arabia established itself as the third largest oil producer in the world.
Beyond the tremendous economic value that lies on its soil in the form of oil, Saudi Arabia is also home to the two holiest shrines of the world's second-largest and most influential religion, Islam. These are the cities of Makkah and Madinah: The Two Holy Places.
Oddly enough, entry and stay in Makkah and Madinah are strictly prohibited for non-Muslim tourists. For that reason, the Saudi police constantly monitor and verify, through police controls on highways, that those who enter these holy cities are, in effect, Muslim converts.
Contrary to popular belief, Saudi Arabia is not only made up of uninhabitable deserts and holy or exclusive places. The giant of the Arabian Peninsula also has spectacular tourist attractions such as the tomb of Qasr al-Farid in Madain Saleh and the system of caves within the Al-Qarah Mountain, which are considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
🇸🇦 Snow in Saudi Arabia? ❄
Although Saudi Arabia is a country related to desert and arid climates, as it houses the most considerable extension of dunes in the world (the Rub al-Jali desert), this country has recorded several snowfalls since its foundation thanks to the diversity of its relief and the elevation of some regions.
Saudi Arabia exhibits a desert climate (BWh and BWk) throughout its more than 830,000 sq mi. Thus, Saudi Arabia is not a snowy country but rather a desert one.
In this sense, the snowfalls recorded in the history of Saudi Arabia must be studied as exceptional meteorological phenomena and foreign to that region.
The climate of Saudi Arabia ⛅
According to the Köppen climate classification, counting types and subtypes, Saudi Arabia exhibits two types of climates throughout its territory: Hot Desert (BWh) and Cold Desert (BWk).
As from the map above, except for some northern regions of Al-Jawf and Tabuk provinces, Saudi Arabia has a predominantly Hot Desert climate (BWh). In other words, its weather is notably dry due to excessive evaporation aggravated by high temperatures and the vast expanses of desert and low-elevation mountain ranges.
Although in terms of temperature, there are variations throughout the year, precipitation levels barely change between seasons, staying below a half inch of rain accumulation on average.
However, there are regions and cities in Arabia where the annual rainfall is considerably higher than other more arid areas of the country, such as Abha (8,582 inches of rain falls at more than 6,561.68 feet), central Jizan (5,236 inches), and northern Ha'il (4.37 inches).
Some of the following technical characteristics have been calculated by averaging climatological data for the Saudi Arabia’s major cities: Riyadh, Dhahran, Al-Jubail, Jeddah, Makkah, and Medina.
- Climate types (Köppen climate classification):
- Hot desert climate (BWh).
- Cold desert climate (BWk).
- Average maximum temperatures in winter: 78.83 °F (26 °C).
- Average maximum temperatures in spring: 99.78 °F (37.6 °C).
- Average maximum temperatures in fall: 90.67 °F (32.5 °C).
- Average maximum temperatures in summer: 106.39 °F (41.3 °C).
- Average minimum temperatures in winter: 58.83 °F (14.9 °C).
- Average minimum temperatures in spring: 77.06 °F (25 °C).
- Average minimum temperatures in fall: 69.54 °F (20.8 °C).
- Average minimum temperatures in summer: 83.78 °F (28.7 °C).
- Average of rainfall in winter: 0.2125 inches (0.53 cm).
- Average of rainfall in spring: 0.0444 inches (0.112 cm).
- Average of rainfall in fall: 0.1292 inches (0.328 cm).
- Average of rainfall in summer: 0.0111 inches (0.028 cm).
When does it snow in Saudi Arabia? 🌨
Does it snow in Saudi Arabia in December?
Yes, it might snow in December. Although, it is only possible in the highest regions (above 6562 feet) of the mountains near the western coast.
Does it snow in Saudi Arabia in January?
Yes, it might snow in January. The last three measurable snowfalls in Saudi Arabia have been recorded during this month (14th-16th January 2016; 1st January 2018; and 25th January 2022).
Does it snow in Saudi Arabia in February?
Yes, it might snow in February. As in December, this meteorological phenomenon is unlikely to be seen in February. Nevertheless, it is not entirely unreasonable that it snows in mountainous regions of northwestern Saudi Arabia at more than 6562 feet.
Where does it snow in Saudi Arabia? 🌨
Below, we present a map of the territorial division of the state of Saudi Arabia in which the distribution of snowfall in the thirteen regions that make up the country is roughly exemplified:
- Although measurable snowfall has been recorded recently (14th-16th January 2016; 1st January 2018; and 25th January 2022) in the Tabuk desert, including the town of Jabel Al-Lawz, such snowfall is rare and primarily responds to major storms hit the region of the Arabian Peninsula.
- The five blue dots marked on the map correspond to the mountainous regions of Turaif (Northern Borders Region), Jabal al-Lawz (Tabuk Region), Arar (Northern Borders Region), Madinah (Medina Region), and Rafah (Makkah region); including the road linking the city of Mecca and Medina. These are the only regions in Saudi Arabia where snowfall can be recorded with any notable frequency, mainly due to their high elevation.
How much does it snow in Saudi Arabia? 🌨
Next, we expose a comparison chart of the average snow accumulation throughout a sliding 31-day period (centered on the day in question) in the capitals of the 13 regions of Saudi Arabia:
The numbers shown in the table above represent inches.
As seen from the table above, none of the capitals of the 13 regions that make up Saudi Arabia record measurable snowfall. While this meteorological phenomenon is not strictly foreign to the country since it is possible to see it in the high mountains of Turaif, Jabal al-Lawz, Arar, and Rafah, there are no precise records of its accumulation throughout the year.