Beam me up, Scotty! Rare light pillars shine during Arctic blast

Extremely cold air near is allowing these light pillars to shine in the Northern U.S.

Bill Taylor - National Weather Service North Platte, Nebraska (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Many folks in the Northern U.S. are dealing with sub-zero temperatures, as a blast of Arctic air has migrated south in the last few days.

This allowed the National Weather Service in Duluth, Minnesota to freeze a pair of pants standing up.

Well, folks, it's so cold here in Duluth, we are freezing our pants off! 🤣 This pair of pants has froze solid and is standing by itself! 630 AM temperature at our office is -25 degrees. 🥶🥶🥶

Posted by US National Weather Service Duluth Minnesota on Sunday, February 7, 2021

The National Weather Service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin threw hot water into the frigid air. This shows how close boiling water is to vaporization when introduced to very cold air.

What to do when it's so cold out? SCIENCE! Hot water dispersed into cold air changes to ice crystals. Example of water in all 3 phases: liquid, gas, solid. https://www.weather.gov/mkx/

Posted by US National Weather Service Milwaukee/Sullivan Wisconsin on Sunday, February 7, 2021

Early Monday morning, Bill Taylor, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in North Platte, Nebraska photographed light pillars.

Bill Taylor - National Weather Service North Platte, Nebraska (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Because of the very cold air and the snow on the ground, ice crystals are suspended or are falling much closer to the ground than we’re usually accustomed to. When artificial light bounces off those ice crystals (about halfway between you and the light source), you get this vertically extending column of light.

For areas like North Platte, temperatures each morning will be at or below freezing through at least Valentine’s Day.

Arctic blast to produce sub-zero low temperatures through the holiday weekend

We saw that this morning on Virginia Today when we discussed the Arctic air loading up north of here.

Early morning temperatures on Monday, 2/8/2021

We won’t see temperatures dip that low, but it’s likely that we get a sliver of that cold air in time for Valentine’s Day.


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