Ice pillars: Cold weather produces rare optical phenomena that look like spotlights at night

CLEVELAND - The cold weather has produced a rare optical phenomena.

@KelliThem sent me this picture on Twitter Tuesday evening. It was very cold outside her home in Ontario, near Mansfield in Richland County. She looked over a nearby home and saw these mysterious beams of light shooting into the sky where they normally are none.

What Kelli witnessed is a rare optical phenomena called ice pillars or light pillars. Ice pillars occur when winds are calm and very small hexagonal ice crystals are suspended, floating, within the top few meters of air next to the ground. Any light within these areas of crystals, street lights, etc, will reflect off of these horizontally oriented crystals creating a "beam" of reflected light that seems to shoot up in the sky.

Ice pillars are viewed most often at night, in very cold arctic air. We may be seeing more of these in the coming few weeks!

If you see an ice pillar, send it to us! Email it to

Print this article Back to Top