"Ice Pillar" Phenomenon Explained

January 1, 2018

The recent weather conditions in the Walkerton area have been perfect for the formation of “ice pillars.”  Sometimes, the same cold air conditions can lead to spectacular sunrises with “sun pillars” shooting up over the horizon.

Light pillars seem to stretch into the sky from anything on the ground that is producing light. The brighter the light, the more intense the ice pillar.

 

 

The color of the pillar will match the color of the light on the ground. Ice pillars like these can only form when a special type of ice crystal settles low to the ground. These crystals, which have six sides, are usually only found in really high altitude clouds. However, when temperatures are cold enough, these ice crystals can drop down to the surface. When they are tilted correctly, they are the reason we see artificial light pillars shooting into the sky.  -  Photo by Anita Shipley

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