An eerie purple glow that illuminated early morning skies over Snowflake, Arizona, last week actually had a very simple explanation, according to county officials.
“The purple glow is a result of UV lights from nearby medical marijuana farm Copperstate Farms and the snow clouds overhead,” Navajo County officials said in a Facebook comment Friday.
Navajo County posted a picture on Facebook that captures the bright purple skies, adding that resident Cara Smith snapped and shared the photo showcasing a “purple glow for miles” over the snow-covered area about three hours northeast of Phoenix.
The county’s comment explaining that the glow was from the farm and snow clouds came in response to a Facebook user who called the image beautiful, but asked what caused the purple light.
Not everyone was impressed, though.
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“This is the worst and makes Snowflake feel so trashy,” one commenter wrote. “There was a time not so many years ago when you could see millions of stars and now you just see purple haze.”
Another wrote that “light pollution is never pretty.”
The county’s Facebook post with the photo has been shared more than 1,000 times.
“The purple lights are always there, but don’t usually light up the sky like this,” Smith said, explaining that she took the picture around 6:30 a.m. Friday on her way to work at Copperstate Farms, CNN reports. “It had snowed that morning and was still very foggy and cloudy.”
Smith added that from her home she can’t usually see lights from the farm, which is run by the biggest medical marijuana wholesaler in Arizona, according to CNN.
The Arizona Republic reports that “Copperstate employed close to 200 people as of last April, growing marijuana in a large greenhouse that formerly grew tomatoes.”
A similar magenta glow alarmed Cleveland, Ohio, residents in 2018 — until local sleuths realized the purple glow was caused by blue and red LED lights at an area greenhouse. That greenhouse raised more conventional crops, including lettuce, herbs and more, McClatchy News reported.
“These LED lights help the plants grow healthier and faster,” said Jeremy Lisy, general manager of Green City Growers in Cleveland, according to News 5. “For example with traditional lighting, it would take about 30-35 days to harvest basil, but with LED lights that time is reduced down to around 28 days.”