Several viral social media posts announced that it snowed in Bana, West Cameroon, last Thursday 9. "Snow was everywhere on the roads today in Bana," a Facebook user wrote, gaining 2,500 likes and 5,000 shares within 24 hours. "I am in Bana. It snowed in Bana," a Twitter user also posted.
Images of people picking up what looks like snow on the road or taking pictures of themselves in the "snow" were used to illustrate the posts. "This is unprecedented. This is Bana where it recently snowed," a man's voice can be heard in French in a video. While some people are excited about the snowfall, others are concerned about its impacts, especially on agriculture.
"No one sees the curse that is coming down on Bana!!! It will destroy agriculture, the main source of income and means of survival for the local population!!! It will affect people’s lives by forcing them to stay indoors!" a Facebook user wrote.
This information is false, however. Experts confirmed that there was no snow in this district of Haut-Nkam county. "There was no snow in Bana. It was hailstones. The wind rose very quickly, not allowing the hailstones time to liquefy before reaching the ground. The quantity that fell was so important that it occupied large spaces. This is what gave the impression that it had snowed, " explains Joseph Armathé Amougou, director-general of the National Observatory on Climate Change (ONACC) we interviewed on phone.
Environmental expert Didier Yimkoua also assures that it did not snow in Bana. "Snow is an ice crystal while hailstones are pieces of ice that are the consequence of violent winds. Hailstones occur during thunderstorms or storms, while snow falls when the temperature drops. What happened in Bana was not a drop in temperature," he explains.
The experts also point out that this is not the first time such a phenomenon is occurring in that region. A similar thing happened in Dschang a year or two ago, Joseph Armathé Amougou said. In 2017, various social media posts announced that it had snowed in Dschang, in Menoua, which was not the case. It was hailstones like what happened in Bana. Although unusual, the phenomenon is becoming quite recurrent. This is a consequence of climate change, ONACC director general says.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem