Freak funnel clouds swept over wide areas of sea off the southern coast of Norway Tuesday morning, shocking residents of such coastal towns as Arendal, Lillesand and Grimstad. Meteorologists warned that the weather phenomenon could be dangerous if the funnel clouds moved in over land.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, they’re quite big,” Silje Rydningen Helland told state broadcaster NRK after calling in to report the cyclone-like funnels that stretched from dark cloud masses down to the sea, amidst otherwise blue skies.
Espen Bierud, who works for the ocean research institute Havforskningsinstituttet at Flødevig in Arendal, was among those witnessing the rare occurrence. “It didn’t take long before folks streamed out onto the piers and verandas to watch,” he told NRK.
For photos collected from NRK viewers, click here.
They may have been wiser to seek shelter. State meteorologist Arild Mentzoni said such funnels are rare in Norway, called skypumper that are set into motion by unstable air masses that start rotating, and they can be dangerous. “These looked very powerful,” Mentzoni said after seeing photos, while witnesses said they were “scary” but fascinating, with lightning and thunder crashing as well. They wound down almost as soon as they’d wound up, and no damage was reported.