Surreal shining lights were not the aurora over Lopez Island Tuesday night...
LOPEZ ISLAND, Wash. -- A surreal, glowing tower of light danced on the clouds over Lopez Island Tuesday evening, but this wasn't the Northern Lights.
Karlena Pickering instead captured a rare-for-the-Northwest display of Light Pillars.
Light Pillars are caused when you have icy clouds/fog near the surface and lights on the ground. The ice crystals inside the clouds refract the light, giving the illusion of towering pillars.
They're most commonly seen in the arctic or during frigid, snowy periods with low freezing fog, but the clouds over Lopez were just cold enough to make it work this week.
Light pillars were also observed around here last year at Stevens Pass. Brie Hawkins snapped this photo in December:
And apparently light pillars were caught over Whidbey Island last month. Watch the left side of this video, taken by SkunkBayWeather.com:
So maybe they're not as rare as it seems. Maybe we'll luck out during a winter storm and manage a light pillar sighting like this one in Ontario last month:
If you ever get any photos of unique or strange weather phonomenon, I'd love to see it! You can post on social media with hashtag #SoNorthwest or better yet, join our Facebook Group "#SoNorthwest Legion of Zoom"