BRETTON WOOD – A reader who wished to remain anonymous sent the Sun photos of light pillars over the Cog Railway.
The reader said she observed the lights in the sky by looking out from the Bretton Woods Condos on the night of Jan. 10.
“This all was going on when I looked out my window over the Whites and the Cog at 11 p.m., it went on until I went to sleep 3 a.m.,” she said. “I am a fan of watching the night sky and never saw this phenomenon before, especially over the Cog. It is a clear view from my deck six miles away.”
She said to her eyes, the lights appeared all white and that the colors in the photo are a result of the night setting on her camera. She said the light pillars seemed to be as far away as Twin Mountain.
The reader suggested the lights could be the result of “cloud seeding” to modify the weather or some sort of military experiment.
So, the Sun checked with the Mount Washington Observatory to find out what’s up with the pillars.
Professor of Meteorology at Plymouth State University Dr. Lourdes B. Avilés and Mount Washington Observatory gave the Sun this reply:
“They are light pillars caused by light reflecting off wide/flat ice crystals (normally hexagonal plate crystals),” said Avilés. “They can occur naturally above or below the sun when there are ice crystal clouds or diamond dust in the air, but these are city lights producing the same effect. I have seen various examples of that before.”
Craig Clemmer, Director of Marketing at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, said that the pillars are the result of air pressure, the cold and snow making and lights on the ground.
“It’s like an artificial rainbow,” said Clemmer adding he thought the picture is cool.
Weather modification is a thing and the state of New Hampshire has laws about it. Mike Dunbar of Citizens Count had a piece published in the Concord Monitor on June 7, 2021 titled “NH futurists take note: weather experiments now require public input.”
It says the law already gave state agencies the right to modify the weather but Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB128 into law which created a public notice rules.
“The new law adds a requirement that the public is informed of weather modification projects at least two months prior to the presentation to the governor and executive council,” said Dunbar. “Specifically, notices must be run in at least four New Hampshire newspapers. The group conducting the experiments would have to disclose the chemicals and technologies they planned to use to modify the weather. Public input would also be solicited.”
A 2013 Granite Geek column by David Brooks said the State Law has allowed the state agencies to modify the weather since 1985 but he hasn’t seen any “evidence” the state has tried since a 1964 rain making effort.
“Seeding involves placing lots of small crystals (usually sodium iodide) into cold clouds, usually from containers on board airplanes but sometimes from ground-based ‘guns’ of various types,” said Brooks. “Moisture clumps around the particles, until the clumps are big enough to fall from the sky as rain or, if it’s cold close to the ground, as snow.”
Brooks said some western states, dealing with drought, and the Chinese, “who like the idea of controlling the sky,” use cloud seeding.
At least in 2023, cloud seeding might be less than practical in New Hampshire.
“It is very difficult to prove that seeding a cloud caused it to rain, since there are so many variables, and it’s even more difficult to control the cloud once you’re done,” said Brooks. “Imagine a ski area seeding a cloud, which then moves away before the snow falls, only to hover over a city and bury it.”