Dozens of Avalanches Likely Fell, Says Met Office Expert Skip to content

Dozens of Avalanches Likely Fell, Says Met Office Expert

By Ragnar Tómas

Avalanche researcher
Photo: RÚV (screenshot).

Despite only being able to confirm three avalanches over the past 24 hours, experts at the Icelandic Met Office estimate that many more avalanches have actually fallen in the Westfjords.

In an interview with RÚV earlier today, Tómas Jóhannesson, avalanche researcher with the Met Office, stated that the three large avalanches that swept through the Westfjords last night likely coincided with others:

“We’ve only received reports of three avalanches, along with the flood in Tröllaskagi, but we estimate that dozens of avalanches have fallen. We won’t be able to confirm this until daybreak – until the weather improves and the conditions are more favourable. There aren’t always people around in those places where avalanches fall,” Tómas stated.

As Tómas mentioned, a blizzard is still passing through the Westfjords, with snowdrift and poor visibility. He expects more avalanches to fall in the area, but no further flooding. Most of the roads in the area are closed.

Asked whether the avalanche that fell yesterday was comparable to the one in 1995, Tómas refused to say:

“We haven’t been able to examine conditions. It wouldn’t be surprising if it’s slightly smaller. Nonetheless, it was quite big. That’s for sure. But it won’t be clear until a further examination is concluded.”

Tómas was also asked about the protective wall that was constructed following the 1995 avalanche:

“The avalanche would have advanced much further into the cape; the wall kept the cape from being inundated. It’s more difficult to speculate whether or not the wall saved lives. If it weren’t for the wall, we would have evacuated the area. Without the wall, Flateyri would be considered the most at-risk avalanche area in the country.”

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