From the ABC 7 Weather team

Sun Pillar

October 3, 2013 - 07:35 AM
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What was that column of light before sunrise this morning? Did you see it?

During Good Morning, Washington today, I noticed what appeared to be the sun almost half way up the horizon around 6:40 a.m.  I had to do a double take, knowing that sunrise wasn't until 7:06 a.m. today. News Channel 8's Brian Van de Graff called up from his studio asking if he was going crazy, or did I see it too?  I told him he wasn't sleep deprived and checked to make sure our Weather Bug camera didn't seize up.  I glanced again and noticed the column of light extending vertically from the horizon.

Sun Pillar as seen from WJLA roof camera in Rosslyn, VA


  Ahhh... a sun pillar!  A sun pillar happens most often during sunrise or sunset.  It is created when the sun's light is reflected in the ice crystals of clouds.  Our clouds today are between 20,000 and 30,000 feet where temperatures are well below freezing, so they consist of ice rather than water droplets.  Ice crystals are more reflective compared to their liquid form of water.  ABC7's Eileen Whelan recorded the timelapse so you could see the entire sunrise.  Thanks, team!!

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