Real Halloween Thrill – fracto–luminescence phenomena!

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:27.

Tucker always likes to go out for a walk after dinner.   We didn't have dinner until 10:30pm because we got stuck on the road at 6:00pm (image above) while traveling to my friend's place for Halloween   So when we finally arrived and had dinner, the snow had built up quite a bit more and it was still snowing like mad.  At about 11pm we went outside for a walk – the lightly traveled road ran off uphill through heavy white pine and oak woods

As soon as Tucker and I got out of the house you could hear trees snapping from the snow load.   Really loud explosive noises. Like gunshots or artillery.  Crack! Crash!  Boom! Followed by cascading breaking noises as the breaking tree fell through other trees and limbs.

Crash!   CrrRACKKK!   Every 5, 10, 15 seconds there was another break, more loud, loud noise.

Tucker wasn’t sure about the gunshot like noises, but on up the street we went.   There were about 6 inches of snow on the ground with white-out conditions. 

Suddenly the limb on the oak tree right above us cracked and tipped down showering us in lumps of snow hitting Tucker on the back.  Tucker spun around defensively – the snow was attacking from all angles!

More limbs broke up ahead on the road showering the road with thick curtains of billowing snow.

Suddenly the neighborhood  house lights and the street lights went out.  Everything was black!

Then all the lights came back on!

Then the street light went back out – buzzing – that light had a bad ballast.

We went to the left side street sidewalk to avoid a large downed limb which completely crossed the road.   Crash, crack – Tucker looked up at me as if to suggest – why don’t we go back to the house?

All the lights along the road went out again – I heard loud groaning, breaking tree noises up in the top of the trees and looked up to see two almost simultaneous bright white light flashes as the snow poured down – two balls of light in two different locations high up in the pine trees.   The flashes were spherical and very bright - maybe not as bright as a lightening strike, but brighter than a welding flash or the arcing which accompanies a breaking energized 4600 volt high voltage wire.

What was this light? 

Tucker didn’t care about the source of the light, he turned and started pulling like a sled dog towards the house.  He had had enough.  Too spooky.   Walk was over.  Goin’ home. 

I thought about the bright spherical flashes, and was puzzled because there hadn’t been any thunder, so I ruled out lightening, and I couldn’t remember any high voltage electrical wires in that area in the trees – so what in the world created the two very bright, glowing, white spheres of light?

The next morning Tucker and I set out back up the same street - the sun was out, the trees were covered in 12 inches of snow, and the woods looked like a winter wonderland.   Trees and tree limbs were down everywhere along the road in the woods. 

I got to the location where we had turned around the night before – the location where we had seen the two flashes of light high up in the trees.   A fellow with a chain saw was cleaning tree limbs which had fallen on the roadway.    One of the 12 inch logs he was sawing into firewood was an entire tree top from a red pine.  I looked up and saw the 25 foot high stump of the red pine – snapped right off by the snow load.

Hummmmm, the snapped stump was located exactly where I had seen one of the bright spherical flashes of light the night before.

I  looked higher up to the right where the night before I had seen the second flash of light - into a group of 100 foot tall white pines.  I didn’t see anything significant at first – until I saw that the top 40 feet of one of the white pines was  broken off .  

Again the timber was broken exactly where I had seen the ball of light the night before.

And there were no electrical wires in the area.

I thought, could it be that the energy released when wood fibers break creates luminescence?

So I went on line and discovered something I never knew about – fracto-luminescence.

You can read about light created from molecular changes here on Wikipedia.

So while my walk with Tucker in the snow storm with breaking trees was pretty spooky, it was also pretty exhilarating – I had seen a very unusual phenomena – fracto-luminescence!

Of course, Tucker knew we would be scared - that's why he wanted to go home - after all - it was Halloween! 


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