Light pillars can be seen in cold, clear weather

Courtesy Val Kreil

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Light pillars are a cold-weather phenomenon seen recently in Anchorage that may ve unusual to newcomers.

You have a better chance to see them in this crisp, cold and at times clear, winter weather.

Light pillars, or ice pillars are the streaks of light that emanate up from sources on the ground. This atmospheric optical phenomenon occurs when ice crystals suspended in the air reflect the ground-based light source into the sky.

Light pillars are considered to be in the family of halos, according to an article on the subject in Wikipedia. The crystals that are associated with light pillars usually consist of flat hexagonal plates that stay vertical in the air. Each flake acts as a small mirror, reflecting the light source below. And when those plates or flakes occur at different altitudes, it causes the reflection to be elongated vertically into a column.

We have some beautiful examples of light pillars, or ice pillars as they are sometimes called, from our weatherpix contributors over the years. Check out the gallery below!


Courtesy Bruce Rupacinski


 
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