Photo: Margarita Alshina/Instagram

An unusual phenomenon that takes place just once every five years has turned the snow orange in mountainous areas of eastern Europe.

The rare sight has been reported in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria. It is believed to be caused by sand from Sahara desert storms mixing with snow and rain, according to multiple reports.

Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the Met Office, told Country Living that the orange tint is the result of sand being lifted up into the atmosphere.

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“As I understand the likelihood is that the snow has been coloured by Saharan dust,” she said. “There are huge Saharan dust storms at the moment and the sand is being picked up by the gales, lifted high into the atmosphere, where it is mixing with weather systems and then falling back to earth mixed with rain or snow.

“This is not an uncommon phenomena and probably why the snow is an orange colour in a few eastern European sites.”

Skiers and snowboarders at a resort near Sochi in Russia have been sharing pictures of the strange scenes. See some of the photos below:

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Марс атакует ? #smurygins_family_trip

A post shared by Alina Smurygina (@sinyaya_ptiza) on

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This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.