(WMC) - Mother nature gave us a little surprise to start the new year.
Parts of the Mid-South woke up to flurries and even a small dusting of light snow. It didn't last long or amount to anything but it was caused by something quite rare in the Mid-South.
Most of the light snow flurries were enhanced by lakes and rivers across the area, especially the Tennessee River and the Mississippi River. This is the same concept as lake effect snow in Michigan, Ohio or New York, except the result is much different. They usually get a few feet. We don't even get a few inches.
So how does it occur?
Unseasonably cold temperatures like those we have now are usually in place. A strong wind blows from either the north, northwest or northeast. As that strong wind blows over the relatively warmer water in area river and lakes, moisture rises off the water and forms precipitation in the form of tiny ice crystals or snow flurries that fall where the water ends or over land just beyond the water.
The temperatures, the wind flow and the water temperature have to be optimal for it to happen. The image above is a satellite micro-physics image that captured the moisture in green coming off the TN and MS rivers downstream.
It was too light to pick up on radar, except in Shelby and Tipton county which was close enough to see it. It's always fun to experience rare weather events.