Memphis sees river effect snow Tuesday: What is it?

River Effect Snow Explainer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - You may have heard of lake effect snow, which is very common across the Great Lakes region, but have you ever heard of river effect snow? It happened Tuesday morning in the Mid-South.

River effect snow
River effect snow (Source: River effect snow)

Lake effect and river effect snow forms when cold air passes over warm waters the warmth and moisture are transferred into the lowest portion of the atmosphere. The air rises, clouds form and can grow and produce snow that can sometimes produce 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more.

The only difference between lake and river effect is that it is caused by a river instead of a lake. River effect is not as common because typically the air mass needs to be situated over the body of water for awhile.

Wind direction plays a huge role and can determine which areas will pick up snow. The snowfall can be sporadic producing snow in one location, while the sun may be shining just a mile or two away in any direction.

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