Even though they should have 24 hour light at this time of year, the remote Eveno-Bytantaisky, Zhigansky, and Verkhozansky districts in Siberia, Russia saw their day turn into a 'complete darkness' for almost three hours on Friday, July 20, 2018.
The region was hit by bizarre darkness between 11:30 and 14:00 local time Friday, with Eveno-Bytantaisky and Zhigansky first reporting the mysterious phenomenon. Reports received over the next couple of days also included the district of Verkhoyansky, making the territory affected by the mysterious darkness larger than Italy, The Siberian Times reports.
"I couldn’t see a thing without switching lights on. We took torches to walk outside, but no-one wanted to be on the street because the feeling was as if something heavy in the air was pressing on your chest", said one resident.
"At first it looked like it was a strong thunderstorm coming," one eyewitness said. "The air went dark, and got darker and darker, but this time unlike anything else we have seen before the darkness had a rich yellow undertone. It was very unusual."
Image credit: The Siberian Times
The main assumption initially was that smoke from raging wildfires in other districts had blotted out the Sun, but officials have expressed doubts over this theory without explaining what caused the weird phenomenon.
Some residents are even saying that a light flash was registered by the US satellites, followed by an increase of radioactive level and unusual activity of the military.
Image credit: The Siberian Times
An official in Nizhne-Bytantaisky settlement contradicted residents who had reported a thick layer of dust after the cloud and darkness vanished. There was no dust, he said.
"People who live here for many years said they had never witnessed anything like this," said Konstantin Starostin, another official in the Nizhne-Bytantaisky settlement.
"The darkness was pitch black. It didn’t come at once but grew gradually. The Sun was gone from 11:30 until 14:00."
Regions affected by the mysterious darkness on July 20, 2018. Credit: Google. Edit: The Watchers
Local officials said there was no rain, dust, smoke or a sharp air temperature drop in the region during the event. However, they said that almost all Arctic districts reported a significant temperature fall. On the night before the event the temperatures dropped down to -4 °C (24.8 °F), local media said. July average in the region is about 10 °C (50 °F).
Head of Verkhoyansk town Yevgeny Potapov said that 'the sun didn’t disappear in his area, but something strange happened on that day.'
"There was something looking like smoke on July 20. At least this is what we decided. We didn’t have nearby wildfires, but there was one at the border with Eveno-Bytantaisky ulus. It was as if the day has gone overcast as if the Sun was covered with a cloud... or not a cloud… but there was no rain," he said.
"We didn’t know what was happening to our neighbors," Potapov added. "We thought stories about no Sun were rumors, but then we realized these were not. We are also trying to guess as to what could have this possibly been.’
There is still no official explanation of the phenomenon from meteorological, defense, or other deferral officials.
In an article published July 27th, The Siberian Times wrote:
Amid a puzzling official and federal media silence, all kinds of theories as to the cause, some conspiratorial, went wild on the web. Versions include a new darkness-inducing weapon being tested, a meteorite strike, the work of aliens or the devil, an unannounced eclipse, a botched rocket launch, or the fumes from raging forest fires.
Suspicions deepened because some official bodies were so coy - even evasive - when asked to explain the event, as if under orders.
A source at the Emergencies Ministry in Yakutsk said in hushed tones: 'We have an opinion but I have no right to disclose this information.' He declined to confirm forest fires as the most likely cause, adding guardedly: 'Anything can be supposed.'
Against this, there were no wildfires in the districts hit by the mysterious cloud.
Natalia Kovalyova, the acting head of meteorological and agricultural forecasting department in regional capital Yakutsk, said she believes Yakutia’s darkest day was caused by forest fires with the pollution blown into districts where no infernos were raging.
If true, the phenomenon appears to be similar to an event in the eastern United States on May 19, 1790, when darkness fell over a large area not affected by wildfires. It is known as New England’s Dark Day.
There has been no comment from the Ministry of Defence.
Featured image credit: The Siberian Times