Was Edvard Munch seized by panic at the sight of “screaming clouds?”
I was walking along the street with two friends – and the sun set. Suddenly, the sky turned blood-red and I felt a shiver of sadness. A feeling of oppressive pain in my breast.“ This is how the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch described the state of feeling which he translated into his famous painting The Scream.
“I stopped in my tracks, leaned against a fence, because I felt tired to death. Above the blue-black fjord and the city, blood lay stretched out in tongues of fire. My friends proceeded ahead – and I found myself left behind, trembling with fear. And I felt that a mighty, endless scream was tearing through all of nature.”
Had Munch at that time in Oslo turned his insides out in his famous painting, as art theoreticians believe? Venting a fear of life, or of death? Was The Scream an image of the state of his soul? Or was there an external trigger for his work?
Indeed, there could have been such, meteorologists have been guessing for some time. Munch‘s Scream may have been inspired by the aspect of the sky, a gigantic cloud of ashes having spewed forth from the Krakatoa volcano in Indosia and having spread around the world in 1883, giving the sunlight a reddish cast for two years, or more. It is quite possible therefore that the painter may have seen this “blood in tongues of fire” appearing in the sky as a real phenomenon.
However, the eruption took place nine years before Munch is said to have painted The Scream. And something else did not fit quite right with a volcano-colored sky: Munch painted dramatic, red waves – but particles of ash at the borders with space are glowing as a solid, red film.
Meteorologists are now proposing a new explanation: it had been a special, rare kind of cloud which had colored the sky of Oslo in this way and produced such a deep impression on Munch. “Mother-of-pearl” clouds, which appear rarely and only in winter at high latitudes, at heights of 20km, resemble the sky-waves represented by Munch, according to a group of Norwegian scientists.
Munch’s panic can be best explained by mother-of-pearl clouds, Helene Muri from the University of Oslo explained at the annual conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, where she presented the results reached by a scientific team gathered around her colleague, Svein Fikke.
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Image via Finish Meteorological Institute
No need to take out the sunscreen just yet. The weather forecast for next week calls for great October weather… in May.
Southern Finland will face the beginning of the week in chilly conditions. Cold breezes from the Arctic Ocean will sweep through the country on Monday and Tuesday, which could develop into, we’re sorry to say, sleet and hail showers.
Yle meteorologist Kerttu Kotakorpi says this cold spell is in stark contrast to previous years.
”With temperatures at five degrees at best in the south, we can definitely talk about an exceptionally cold period for this time of year.”
This time last year Finland basked in sunshine and temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees.
Image via AAMULEHTI
Thursday’s press review begins with an article from Aamulehti out of Tampere, asking a meteorologist for a reasonable explanation for the unreasonably cold weather Finland has had to endure this spring. Erik Saarika of the Finnish Meteorological Institute says the reason lies one kilometre above us in the atmosphere, where temperatures have been colder in April and May than they were last winter.
“Atmospheric temperatures are topsy-turvy. At this time of the year, the warmth of the sun is so abundant that it compensates for the air’s coolness, but the cold has still made itself manifest as snow, even in the afternoon. In the winter it was so warm that it rained instead,” Saarika told the paper.
This strange situation has led to it being impossible to tell what time of the year it is by looking out the window. Is it fall, winter or spring? In Tampere, the paper states, the average temperature on New Year’s Eve was 3.6 degrees Celsius, and on May 8, it was 1.7 degrees.
And even if the sun can potentially warm things back up, heavy clouds have persisted in blocking the sun in the last few months. Saarika says that many mornings have started off clear, but the skies have turned more overcast as the days have progressed, often bringing precipitation.
Sunshine statistics from the Institute show that Finland had 20 hours less sunshine in April 2017 than the 30-year average. But the weather service assures the shivering masses that things will get better: next week should see daytime temperatures of over 15 degrees Celsius in the south.
A late spring is better than an early summer – if you’re a bird…or a blueberry bush
Unseasonably cold weather is keeping birds from nesting and delaying the blossoming of wild berry bushes in Finland’s north…
There is still plenty of snow in the forests of Lapland, and there is ice on many of its lakes and rivers. Spring has inched forward slowly and temperatures, especially at night, are frigid. Right now, the weather in Lapland is 4C-5C below the long-term average.
The cold is being reflected in the late arrival of migratory birds. According to Jukka Jokimäki, a researcher at the University of Lapland’s Arctic Centre, the institution’s annual count of migratory birds is now on hold because so few have come as far north as the Arctic Circle.
“At the beginning of April it looked like we’d have an early spring, but migration has been at a standstill and is around a week and a half late. Wagtails are the only insect eaters being seen. Wading birds are missing altogether, which is understandable since all of our ponds and lakes are still covered by ice,” reports Jokimäki.
“If we consider this in a positive light, a late cold snap is unlikely to be a problem because the birds haven’t yet started nesting. It’s been winter-like all spring and, for example, game fowl haven’t been able to start nesting because there is still over 50cm of snow in the forests in the Rovaniemi area,” Jokimäki points out.
Cold temperatures have also impacted vegetation, delaying the start of the growing season. On the other hand, this may result in a more bountiful crop of wild berries come the autumn, says Rainer Peltola of the Natural Resources Institute.
“This is not a bad thing at all. The later that [berry bushes] start blooming, the less the risk of frost, and the greater the probability that the crucial phase of pollination takes place.”
It seems the late winter is still biting hard (bold added);
Norway is currently under an amount of snow extremely rare for late spring, with up to half a metre of snow falling in areas outside of Oslo.
Snowfall during Wednesday night caused traffic delay Thursday, and so much snow has fallen that Oslo residents have returned to ski slopes in the off-season, reports NRK.
Oslo’s municipality told the broadcaster that it was reopening ski slopes.
“Preparing ski slopes after Easter is completely abnormal. But we have never prepared them in May before,” Knut Johansson of the city authority said.
The Vestmarka area outside of the capital is one of the areas that has seen heavy amounts of May-time snow.
“We have 25cm at Solli in Vestmarka, where we are going out with an ATV quad bike to make ski slopes,” ski run manager Hege Blichfelt Sheriff of the local skiers’ association told NRK.
Just under a centimetre of snow was measured this morning outside the Norwegian Institute for Meteorology (Meteorologisk Institutt) at Blindern in the capital, according to NRK’s report.
Snow has not been seen at Blindern at this time of year since 1967, according to the institute.
“It is something very rare for the snow to settle as far down as Blindern,” said meteorologist Terje Alsvik Walløe.
Even though snow further north is less uncommon for the time of year, Walløe said the amount that had fallen was “unusual”.
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Nordic power prices soared as record cold weather in parts of the region delayed the seasonal melting of snow into water needed to generate electricity.
The coldest night on record dating back to 1859 this week helped electricity prices on Wednesday jump 34 percent so far in May from a year earlier and they are headed for the highest average level for the month since 2013 on the Nord Pool AS exchange in Oslo. The unseasonably cold weather is also driving up demand for the commodity.
”It’s what we call a spring pinch,” Sigbjorn Seland, chief analyst at StormGeo’s Nena Analysis in Oslo, said by phone. ”Unusually high spot prices and very low inflows due to the cold.”
While temperatures were colder in the north in absolute terms, they fell as low as minus 7.8 Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) during the night to Thursday at Visby airport on the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. It was the coldest May in the area on record. Uppsala, a town just north of Stockholm, had its coldest May night since 1947 on Wednesday.