Strange Orange Snow Falls in Eastern Europe

An image posted to Instagram by a witness (Image credit: margarita_alshina)

An image posted to Instagram by a witness (Image credit: margarita_alshina)

A strange orange snowfall blanketed mountainous regions of Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania last week, prompting some to compare the landscape to that of Mars.

Witnesses were quick to share photos of the odd phenomenon on social media.

Марс атакует 🌔 #smurygins_family_trip

A post shared by Alina Smurygina (@sinyaya_ptiza) on

Steven Keates, a meteorologist with the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s National Weather Service, told the Independent he found it "feasible" that the phenomenon was caused by sand and dust carried into the atmosphere from storms in North Africa. 

“There has been a lot of lifted sand or dust originating from North Africa and the Sahara, from sand storms which have formed in the desert,” said Keates.  “As the sand gets lifted to the upper levels of the atmosphere, it gets distributed elsewhere." 

"Looking at satellite imagery from Nasa, it shows a lot of sand and dust in the atmosphere drifting across the Mediterranean," he continued.  “When it rains or snows, it drags down whatever is up there, if there is sand in the atmosphere.”

Strangely colored snows are not uncommon in Eastern Europe.  Residents of Siberia reported oily, foul-smelling orange snow in 2007; and just last December in St. Petersburg, locals were puzzled by a mysterious blue snowfall.

Tobias Wayland