Anyone who has stepped outside in the past couple weeks knows that the weather has been pretty weird lately. Parts of the country are still digging out from snow while others have icy streets that are just now melting, but that isn't the strangest thing that's been going on. There have also been eerie pillars of light appearing across America, and witnesses are certain they are seeing some kind of UFO abduction ray.
Fortunately, we are not amid a massive alien invasion. It turns out the beams are just an atmospheric phenomenon caused by light reflecting off the millions of ice crystals in the air. According to AccuWeather, there is nothing to fear with the pillars of light. One meteorologist explained, "Typically, ice crystals are small enough to remain suspended in the air and only form when temperatures are below zero. In most instances, temperatures are minus 10 to 20 degrees or colder."
This is in line with where many of the light pillar sightings have taken place, like in Washington, Minnesota and North and South Dakota, but also farther south in states like Iowa.
Those who have seen the pillars before say these are far brighter and taller than in previous years, which might be because of the extreme cold.
They don't happen too often either since conditions have to be just right for the pillars to form - it must be below freezing with virtually no wind in the air, so there can't be any storms nearby.