Unique Weather Phenomena Observed Friday Night

Numerous reports of strange lights in the sky were received by local media across Michigan, Indiana and Ohio on Friday night, October 16th, 2009. Many people wondered if these lights were part of an Aurora Borealis or something else. In actuality, these lights were a phenomena known as light pillars. These tend to occur at night when there are low or mid level clouds and ice crystals are falling from them. Artificial lights from the ground reflect off of the ice crystals and show up as pillars of light that extend vertically into the sky. These are often observered in colder climates, and sometimes when it is very cold and no clouds exist at all, ice crystals form in clear air and light pillars are observed above city lights.

Sun Pillars are a similar phenomena that are observed right before sunrise or right after sunset. A pillar of light extends from above the horizon where the sun is rising or setting. This is also due to ice crystals in clouds reflecting this light that is beamed directly into them and produces the reflection.

Below are a few pictures of the light pillars taken by photographers in Michigan on Friday night. If you observed these light pillars and took pictures, or you have pictures from another event of this type, we would like to share them here. Just drop us a note with the pictures and permission to use them to  w-iwx.webmaster@noaa.gov  . 

 Light Pillar Image Baron

Light Pillar Image Baron

The two photographs above were taken by Nancy Baron and family from Lambertville, Michigan on Friday night, October 16th.  They were looking south/southwest toward Toledo OH when they shot the pictures. Thanks to Kristin Emery of WTVG-TV/13abc in Toledo for forwarding these on and the Baron family for the pictures!

Below are 3 pictures taken by Jacob Bolton of Verve Creations on Friday October 16th as well. These pictures were taken from near Howell MI, facing towards Lansing and also towards Detroit. Mr. Bolten kept his camera lens open for 25 seconds to get the shots. Thanks to David Young of WLNS TV-6 in Lansing MI for forwarding these pictures and Mr. Bolton for the pictures!

Light Pillars Bolton

Light Pillars Bolten 2

Light Pillars Bolton 3

Web story by Lashley/Holsten/Fisher - October 19th, 2009

 


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