Inhabitants of the capital region and other parts of Iceland woke up to a snowstorm yesterday. While drivers were stuck in snow and pedestrians fought the blizzard, Fréttablaðið’s photographers headed out with their cameras.
A screenshot from visir.is (Fréttablaðið online). Click here to see the full photo gallery.
There were serious disturbances to the energy network of southwest Iceland shortly after 6 pm last night due to interference caused by salt and ice to the equipment of Landsnet’s control center in Hvalfjörður, visir.is reports.
The power was cut to the Century Aluminum smelter on Grundartangi in Hvalfjörður for four hours and an hour longer at the neighboring plant Elkem Iceland.
Blackouts were widespread across west Iceland, the West Fjords and in parts of south Iceland, and the hot water pumps of the Hellisheiði heating utility went dead because of electrical disturbances.
This disrupted the pumping of hot water to the capital region and for a period of time yesterday evening there was no hot water at all in Borgarnes, Akranes, Þorlákshöfn and the Ölfus region in south Iceland.
Also, the tunnel beneath Hvalfjörður fjord had to be closed twice yesterday because of the blackout.
A large team from Landsnet and Reykjavík Energy worked on repairs last night; shortly after midnight electricity was up and running again in all parts of the country.
According to Fréttablaðið, all domestic flights were canceled yesterday because of the snowstorm and many roads across the country were impassable.
The road across Hellisheiði connecting the capital with south Iceland was closed from Tuesday evening until this morning; it hadn’t been closed for such a long time in four years.
In the capital region police officers were busy with assisting drivers of minor accidents, regularly causing traffic jams. The wind also uprooted trees.
The weather calmed shortly after midnight although conditions were expected to remain windy in northeast Iceland until noon.
Fairly still weather is forecast until Friday, when above zero temperatures and rain are forecast and will cause the snow to melt again, resulting in slippery conditions.
Even though Hellisheiði was closed and business therefore rather poor, the pit stop Litla kaffistofan on the pass remained open, Morgunblaðið reports.
“We continue as we always have. The meat soup was ready at 5:30 or 6 am [yesterday] morning and we are ready to be called out to pump oil onto snow plows as long as we can get there,” said Stefán Þormar Guðmundsson at Litla kaffistofan.
Stefán said Japanese tourists were taken by surprise as they drove into a snowdrift by Litla kaffistofan yesterday morning and got stuck. “They were frightened […]. We helped them to return to Reykjavík and told them that it was best to spend the day in the capital.”
Despite the road closure, some commuters tried to drive across Hellisheiði yesterday. Bjarni Gunnar Jóhannsson, a member of the search and rescue team Björg from Eyrarbakki, was one of those on call and had to assist drivers.
Some of those he assisted believed their vehicles were sufficiently equipped to drive across Hellisheiði in spite of the blizzard but Bjarni said he had advised them to turn around. They took his advice.
Quite a few foreigners were hoping to see Gullfoss and Geysir in the Golden Circle tour or to drive along the southern coast to Vík but Bjarni and his team members set them straight—it was no weather for traveling yesterday.