How Much Snow Does Saudi Arabia Get

How much snow does Saudi Arabia Get?

Surrounded by deserts, Saudi Arabia is known for its hot temperatures and sunny climate. Few people realise though, that during the winter months, the country does often receive snowfall. The amount of snowfall varies in various regions of the country, but some places still see a fair share of the white stuff.

According to the World Snow Cover map, the northern and western portions of Saudi Arabia, including the provinces of Ha’il, Jouf, and Tabuk, usually get the most snow. The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory reported that, under right atmospheric and weather conditions, Saudi Arabia can experience up to 4-5 inches of snow in some mountain regions in the northern part of the country.

Meteorologists in Saudi Arabia explain that almost any region of Saudi Arabia can potentially experience snowfall. The variance in temperature due to the presence of sea breeze and wind, and the country’s mountainous regions also play a part in the frequency and amount of snowfall during a given winter season.

Dr. Ali Al-Sahil, an expert from the National Centre of Meteorology, stated in a Saudi news portal that in most of the lower areas of Saudi Arabia, snowfall happens every three years. In the application and interview with the news portal, he also explained that the higher mountainous areas of the country might experience snowfall at any time from November to April.

In the areas of Saudi Arabia that experience snowfall, it’s still a relatively rare phenomenon that has been recorded since time immemorial. Historical records of snow, going as far back as 16th century and recounted in journals and diaries, speak of dustings of “powdery frost” and “hail and snow” during the winter months.

Nowadays, locals and visitors alike can easily observe snow drifts, ice frozen atop the ground or even flurries of snow in unusually cold winter days. Many parts of the country where snowfall is most expected have seen a flurry of snowfall every 1-2 winters.

Snowfall Impact on Nature and Economic Activity

The transformation of landscapes in Saudi Arabia after a heavy snowfall can appear to be so picturesque that it looks almost surreal. Every inch of vegetation and terrain turns bright white, mixing in with the grey land and sand. It is a beautiful picture.

One of the most noticeable implications of snow in the country is the immediate hibernation of insects, birds, small animals and amphibians due to the drop in temperature. Thus, the sudden change in the weather could bring profound effects on the environment.

However, when it comes to economic activities, the snowfall of Saudi Arabia has no effect in terms of production interruption. Many activities, such as agricultural production, can continue as normal. Without the threat of damages to agriculture, the country can enjoy the beauty of snow.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is heavily focused on oil production, which is not affected by the snowfall. Furthermore, while no part of the country is dependent on winter tourism or winter-related activities like skiing, its citizens still take delight in the snow because it is rare.

Preparing for Snowfall

Despite the rarity and unpredictability of snowfall in the country, some local municipalities still take precautionary steps to prepare themselves in case the amount of snow received is especially high in a particular season. This includes removing any possible obstacles on the streets which may obstruct traffic under any circumstances.

The Ministry of Transport in Saudi Arabia have also advised all drivers to practice extra caution during spells of snow and has made arrangements for the trucks to be well stocked with snow chains, if the need arises. In addition, sand is often spread before snow to set a more secure base for vehicles to prevent them from slipping – a technique adopted from some countries more used to the presence of ice and snow.

Municipalities in the snow covered regions also take reverse measures by washing the sand away for safety reasons after all the snow has melted.

Adapting to the Snow

It is worth noting that snow does not stop the locals from going about their daily lives. They simply embrace the opportunity to make the most out of it and take the snow in their stride.

Photographers, both professional and amateur, flock to witness the rare happening, while many citizens take their families out to enjoy the white carpet that Nature has spread. People build snowmen, catch snowflakes on their tongues and occasionally break out into sledding and other winter sports.

The locals of Saudi Arabia have even adopted a term to call the return of snow in their country, by referring to it as ‘Al-Tarfah’, an old Arab term to describe the glorious manifestation of snow.

Unexpected Benefits of Snowfall

In some parts of Saudi Arabia, snowfall brings a much-needed respite from the desert heat. Local doctors have reported an increased rate of respiratory health in areas where it snows. The snow also has a positive effect on surrounding plant and aquatic life.

Rainfall and snowfall during the winter months in Saudi Arabia refill wadis, or marshland, and subsequently benefit vegetation life in the area. These beautification efforts may also effect the prices of real estate, as people are likely to move to a place surrounded by greenery.

Additionally, during a certain number of days the snowfall can significantly impact the beauty of the landscape. The Sahara Desert is known to be a beautiful sight, but once the snow rolling comes though, it gives it a magical transformation that few people can forget.

Types of Snow Experienced in Saudi Arabia

A shocking reality is that the snow in Saudi Arabia comes in many forms. The snow sector of Saudi Arabia experiences a great deal of snow seasonally, from powdery snow, snowballs and also hail. The region of Hejaz, situated in the western part of Saudi Arabia, is most likely to experience sleet.

The weather conditions in the kingdom have to be at a certain temperature for the snow to freeze on the ground. The temperature must be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and when summer sets in, the snow usually melts away.

The amount of snow experienced will, of course, depend on the temperature and atmospheric conditions in the area. However, the snowflakes that fall in this region of the world are always beautiful.


The snowfall in Saudi Arabia is rarely a cause for alarm, yet it is a welcomed phenomenon that impacts the environment and people’s lives in positive ways. For many locals, not only does the snow look beautiful, but it also brings relief to the hot desert climate, as well as a rare opportunity to enjoy the winter season. While most snowfall amounts in the country are measured in inches, snow-lovers continue to celebrate the once in a three-year average event.

Joseph Gamez

Joseph R. Gamez is a freelance journalist and writer who specializes in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. His articles focus on regional politics, human rights, and religious and cultural issues. He is passionate about bringing the stories of the Middle East to the public in an engaging and thought provoking way.

Leave a Comment