Thanks for your detailed reply. I had forgotten about the Longue Pointe power failure. If indeed a transformer arced there, it must have been a big one because the base is located in Hochelaga on the Montréal island, and I had Laval and most of Montréal between it and me. I wish I still had my university schedules, so I could have a better estimate of the time at which I've seen the flashes. But past 22:00h or 23:00h seems at least in the ball park (I remember I came in too late for the 22:00h news). My class was incidentally in downtown Montréal, not very far from the Hilton, but I didn't
see nothing out of the ordinary in the sky when I exited the building.
As for the extend of the light in the sky while I was driving on the North shore, I would say at least 40-45 degrees. Maybe even more: The sky became very bright well above the houses and trees on my left, and very bright even in front of me in the top left portion of the windshield. Very much like a very big lightning strike several kilometres away.
Maybe it was simply a transformer in the area, but every time I've experienced one of these bursting, the emitted light tended to look like a smaller hemisphere, you could almost pinpoint the source.
The light pillar explanation is probably the best one so far (my brother and sister actually saw such phenomenon over Mont-Royal, visible from Ville de Lorraine on a summer day years ago). I wish there was a higher quality version of the picture from La Presse, not scanned from the newspaper page, floating around.
Anyways, it did provoke a lot of chatter the next day on the radio shows, and people saw stuff happening not only from the vicinity of the Hotel, but also from Verdun (I think there are one or two recordings on the net).
Thanks, and again, good job on your very thorough website,
Our reply :
The additional info provided by Mr. LAUZON regarding the location and angular width of the blue flashes, definitely rules out a transformer failure at the Longue Pointe Military Base. A distance of 11 miles would have placed the flashes close to the horizon from where Mr. LAUZON was and not in front of the car (and certainly not "in the top left portion of the windshield"). Also, their angular width would have covered only a couple of degrees of the sky, not "at least 40-45 degrees".
Unfortunately, the very nature of the sighting (short duration, diffuse shape, incident dating back to 1990) makes it impossible to properly evaluate this report. Whether or not the blue flashes were in any way related to what was seen in other parts of the region that night is uncertain. Perhaps an unusually high reflectivity of the clouds (billions of snow or ice crystals falling down with their longer axis horizontally) caused poorly shielded lights in and around the city of Montreal to reflect brightly off of the clouds. The light sources responsible for these atmospheric reflections can be numerous (badly shielded spotlights illuminating sport fields and buildings, outdoor welding activities, headlights of cars driving uphill, etc…).
Although HAINES & GUENETTE mention that none of the people they contacted at the Longue Pointe base had noticed anything unusual in the sky on November 7th, the authors do mention that a 31 year old witness, Mr. Pierre CAUMARTIN, saw some "very odd lights" near Longue Pointe that night. While driving home from work between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., Mr. CAUMARTIN noticed what he described as "a strange luminous object in a boomerang shape" with "very big and strong" lights flying towards then hovering near the Hydro Québec, Longue Pointe power station (p. 5 of the HAINES & GUENETTE report). The witness made two sketches of the phenomenon:
Mr. CAUMARTIN’s sketch of the unusual "object" he spotted near the Longue Pointe power station. First when driving toward the station (left); then as seen while it hovered over the station.
The report states that the total sighting duration was 10 to 15 minutes but it is not mentioned how the phenomenon disappeared.
Power stations usually have a great number of spotlights illuminating the surroundings and perhaps their light was being reflected back to the ground by airborne snow or ice crystals. The eastward movement of the lights during the first phase of the sighting (i.e. when Mr. CAUMARTIN was driving in the direction of Longue Pointe), followed by a stand-still near the power station at the same moment the witness stopped his car, makes one wonder if the reported manoeuvres were not merely an illusion due to the witness observing the phenomenon from a moving vehicle (much like a distant, "stationary" light source such as the Moon appears to be travelling alongside your car when you watch it through the side window of the vehicle). Unfortunately, the HAINES & GUENETTE report contains not enough details that enable us to confirm or reject this possibility.
A typical feature of the November 7 phenomena is that almost all the witnesses reported seeing stationary lights in the night sky in close proximity to places where there were spotlights (be it the swimming pool at the Bonaventure Hotel, the electrical power station at Longue Pointe or the Olympic Stadium). Moreover, all witnesses described these lights as hovering in or close to the cloud base. We think that these circumstances in themselves are indicative of a weather related optical phenomenon rather than of a material contraption with lamps attached to it.