A powerful flood occurred on Sunday evening in the small lake of Nykurtjörn in Svarfaðardalur valley, North Iceland, when an ice blockage burst, causing significant damage to the pastures of the farm Grund. A monster is said to inhabit the lake.
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“It was scary because the flood was coming straight toward the houses,” farmer at Grund Friðrik Þórarinsson told Fréttablaðið [14.06.13]. Nykurtjörn is located in the mountain above the farm at an altitude of 700 meters.
“We heard a loud noise and powerful rumble. Its force was extreme because the drop is so high. We first thought of getting the sheep out of the way. There was a crawler crane nearby so we could immediately re-channel the flood so it wouldn’t destroy the houses,” said Friðrik.
He added that they had been lucky that the blockage didn’t burst when they were all fast asleep. “Damage to pastures is significant but it could have been much worse.”
According to legend, and as the name indicates, Nykurtjörn is inhabited by the mythological creature nykur, a water horse, which can prove dangerous to humans and every now and again causes the lake to flood by flipping over in it.
“We don’t think much about this story but I hear from older people that they are afraid of the stream that runs out of the lake,” said Friðrik. He has not experienced a flood like this since he started farming at Grund in 1986.
“They say it’s risky to farm this land and when we moved here the old people warned us about it,” Friðrik added.
The first years after the move to Grund, he would hike up to the lake to shovel slush away from the run-off so that it wouldn’t flood.
However, it never proved necessary because there wasn’t enough snow to cause a blockage. Winters were mild and eventually, Friðrik stopped paying attention to the lake. “I started to get reckless. But one must obviously keep guard.”