Light Pillars

January 22nd, 2013 at 8:23 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    Click the picture to enlarge. I’ve had a couple of emails and calls this evening about people seeing  light pillars. These are caused by ice crystals in the air that refract or bend the light from a point source on Earth upward. These seldom occur if the temperature is above +15  (it’s below +10 now) It usually helps to have clear to variably cloudy skies instead of being totally solid overcast all night.  Sometimes the clouds are thin and the moon shines right through them.  Here’s more images of light pillars.          The last day with a high temperature in G.R. as cold as today (10) was 1/15/09 and the last day with a high temperature colder than today was 2/4/07.   Also, according to Andy, the climate guru, the high of 10 on Monday made it one of the 151 coldest days (high temperatures) in Grand Rapids since records began in the late 1800s.

28 Responses to “Light Pillars”

  1. North side of holland says:

    Wow , simply awesome :)

  2. Nick (Grand Haven / West Olive) says:

    Nothing here. I would love to see it though!

  3. Mary (Barrow, Alaska) says:

    Cool description! I see that a lot but never thought about the cause. Sometimes when I walk I think it’s my eyes!
    The sun came up for the first time again today! I usually walk to the edge of town to see it, it’s so quick it looks like a time lapse! However, I work nights so I slept through it this time.

  4. Kim Carson says:

    WOW! I have never seen anything like that before! Lived here all my life….beautiful, beautiful photo, thanks for sharing.

  5. LeeAnn says:

    Beautiful pillars around Hastings!

  6. Larry from Hastings/Barry Co says:

    I love seeing “light pillars”. I am ready for spring.

  7. Patricia says:

    I have seen these a few times before and its always fascinating! This morning on my way to work at 5am I was entertained by these light pillars coming from oncoming traffic.

  8. Cheryl Johnson says:

    Bill, I took a few pictures of ‘Rainbow Pillars’, or perhaps they were just a broken rainbow! I’m not certain! It was at 4:50 this evening, and the sun was quite bright!

  9. Jack says:

    Awesome Light Pillars …MORE AWESOME GOD !!!!!

  10. Leslyn says:

    My daughter and I saw them tonight! We are from the South, so we have never seen them! Very cool!

  11. mary says:

    Light pillars are way cool. I love that the last coldest high temp was my b-day :)

  12. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Impressive !!

  13. Brian says:


    Would this be similar to the “snow-bows” (my term–probably not accurate) I saw this morning at sunrise? The sun was rising between two rainbow-looking vertical columns of light. Truly astonishing.

  14. Beth Albert-Quinley says:

    Saw them in Novi!! They were fairly faint, probably due to the lights from the city. So thankful to have seen this amazing sight!

  15. Brigid says:

    Saw these Sunday night on my way to Big Rapids. I suspected it had something to do with ice crystals as I put it!!

  16. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:


  17. Christina says:

    It’s aliens

  18. Michael (Berrien county) says:

    That is awesome!! Quite a meteorological phenomenon. Check this out too what I was just reading. Another weather phenomenon…. 1-3 inches of “pond effect” snow in Illinois this morning.

  19. Maria (Rockford) says:

    I actually saw this morning what appeared to be a vertical rainbow. I took a picture because in my 45 years of life I had never seen such a thing. I have a picture but don’t know how to post. I was driving East towards Lowell. I wonder if this was the start of the “light pillars”?

  20. Heidi says:

    Saw one of these this morning in Walker on my way to work (around 9 am). Wondered what it was. Kind of a rainbow look, but much different. Appreciate the explanation! Very interesting.

  21. Kairi says:

    I saw them!!!! I was thinking what are those !? I was thinking some projector lights!! They were cool ;)

  22. Allegan Joe says:

    I have seen this “Exact Picture” before–I believe it was on this blog sight. They are something pleasant to view and indeed beautiful at times. Interesting sight. :-)

  23. Skot says:

    Makes me wonder why fixxxer is even on here? Always beauty in weather.

  24. Cindy says:

    Saw the rainbows on either side of the sun yesterday. I wonder if they are a related phenomenon, although I think I have seen those in the summer. Might be sun dogs.

  25. BCDriver says:

    Saw them this morning in Battle Creek!

  26. Kim says:

    We saw light pillars this morning in Cedar Springs. Not as colorful as this, but intriguing just the same. We live in the country, and could see the pillars shooting up from the businesses up on 17 Mile Rd near the expressway.

  27. termite says:

    i saw two this morning in the milwood neighborhood in kalamazoo

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