Weather 101

Rare weather explains red lights on Lake Erie

Have you seen red lights flashing on Lake Erie? For those who have seen the lights for the first time, it’s a confusing sight but one that has an explanation.

The rare weather phenomenon allows residents all along Lake Erie’s south shore to see the Lake’s North shore.

So what are the lights? Responding to calls from curious residents, a spokesperson for the Ninth Coast Guard District told us they investigated and discovered the lights were from giant wind turbines in Canada.

The phenomenon is called super refraction. It’s a bending of light rays downward toward the Earth’s surface, caused by changes in the density of the air with height.

An impressive temperature inversion over Lake Erie caused the sunlight to bend downward enough so that distant objects not normally seen could now be seen with the naked eye. It means residents along the shore could get a rare glimpse of Canada from their own backyard.

Many area residents may remember seeing the phenomenon back in May 2013, and Power of 5 meteorologist Mark Johnson explained in this article:

MORE: Rare weather phenomenon allows northern Ohioans to see Canadian shoreline.

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