The weather was stormy across Iceland yesterday, making roads impassible and causing blackouts in the Dalabyggd region in west Iceland and in the West Fjords. The weather forecast today is not much better; south and southwesterly winds of 15-23 meters per second. The stormiest weather is predicted for the far east and northwest.
Snowdrifts in northeast Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
According to ruv.is, domestic flight schedules were disrupted this morning and the weather isn’t expected to calm until the evening.
A fiber optic cable run by the telecom company Míla was cut between Vík and Kirkjubaejarklaustur in south Iceland yesterday, causing disturbances to telecom service and television and radio broadcasts, Morgunbladid reports.
A truck blew over and landed on its side on the bridge across Borgarfjördur fjord by Borgarnes, west Iceland, yesterday morning.
The driver was unharmed but the truck couldn’t be removed from the bridge until the storm calmed. Cranes had arrived to remove the truck when the newspaper hit the printers last night.
The mountain pass across Holtavörduheidi heath in northwest Iceland opened again before noon yesterday although conditions were still windy and slushy. A number of people ran into trouble there on Sunday and Sunday night.
Members of the search and rescue teams Húnar, Heidar, Strönd, Blanda, Brák and Ok worked well into the night to assist commuters in driving down from the mountain pass and seeking shelter in the district boarding school Reykjaskóli.
“It looked all right when we arrived at Stadarskáli [the last pit stop before entering the mountain pass] around eight, there were a few snowdrifts […] and it was a little windy but otherwise the weather was fine,” Magnússon, who was driving, explained.
“It wasn’t until we entered the heath that the crazy weather hit. We were in a well-equipped car, a Subaru Legacy on studded tires, but at 8:30 we just couldn’t drive any further,” he described.
“The car didn’t get stuck—there wasn’t much snow on the road, no drifts—but it was extremely stormy and a lot of cars had stopped. The first driver probably couldn’t see the markers anymore and stopped to be safe,” he reasoned.
Magnússon didn’t want to drive past the cars that had stopped because he didn’t know what the conditions were like. He got out of the car to check what was the matter but couldn’t see anything. “It was dark and the weather was crazy. I haven’t experienced such weather in many years.”
The commuters called the Road Administration and were told that they would be picked up. “Around twelve o’clock we were driven down to Stadarskáli and from there to Reykjaskóli. There was enough room because the students were traveling and weather-bound in the Westman Islands and Reykjavík so that was a lucky coincidence,” he said.
The Road Traffic Directorate issued a statement yesterday, explaining that due to the weather conditions on Holtavörduheidi, 16 to 18 vehicles had to be left behind and around 40 people were taken to Reykjaskóli where they spent the night. Almost as many search and rescue team members participated in the operation.
The directorate encourages people to always inform themselves about the weather forecast and road conditions before traveling, especially when mountain passes are included in the route.