One of the silver linings to the extreme cold that is sweeping our state is the fact that certain phenomena have a higher chance of occurring. One of my favorite things to spot in the winter sky is the phenomena known as sun dogs.

Sun dogs are similar to rainbows, but form on both sides of the sun, making it look like there are three suns in the sky.

Sundogs are formed from hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds or, during very cold weather, by ice crystals drifting in the air at low levels. These crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays passing through them.

It doesn't have to be extremely cold for sun dogs to be visible, but it sure does help when it comes to clouds forming the necessary crystals to create this illusion. They are also more likely to appear when the sun is lower on the horizon in the months of January, April, August, and October.

What is really great about sun dogs is that they are sometimes indicators of warmer weather on the way.

Ancient Greeks came to realize that sundogs are fairly accurate rain forecasters. The ice crystals that produce the haloes and sundogs also form cirroform clouds, which make up the typical cloud formation that foretells a precipitating warm front.

A warm front sounds pretty good right about now. In the meantime, keep your eye out for sun dogs in the winter sky.

10 Things Minnesotans Do During a Polar Vortex

Minnesota's 10 Favorite Things About Weather