Ring Road in Northeast Iceland Closed Due To Flood Risk Skip to content
Bridge over Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
Photo: Iceland Meteorological Office. The slush ice on the river’s surface is close to reaching the bridge over the river.

Ring Road in Northeast Iceland Closed Due To Flood Risk

A part of Route 1, colloquially known as the ring road, in northeast Iceland, has been closed due to ice jams causing a risk of flooding in the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. An ice jam burst last Tuesday, January 26, resulting in a flood that toppled a met office measurement cabin, with water levels coming dangerously close to reaching the bridge over the river.

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Response raised the uncertainty level for the area last Thursday since the possibility of further flooding similar to the one occurring last Tuesday couldn’t be eliminated. Experts from the Met Office have been monitoring the level of ice in the river for the past week, and the road has been open only from 9 am to 6 pm. The reason is that it is difficult to monitor the water levels and the amount of ice in the river in the dark. Around noon today, the North-east Iceland Police closed the part of route 1 that crosses the bridge, as there were indications that the ice jam south of the bridge is moving.

Water levels have dropped since yesterday afternoon, which could be an indication that the river is melting off the ice and slowly getting rid of the surface slush ice. Water levels by the bridge are still high due to the amount of slush ice but the river is flowing normally underneath the ice, a flow of about 100 cubic metres (3531.47 cubic feet) per second, which is normal for this time of year. What happens next depends largely on the weather conditions in the area for the next few days, but the Met Office expects a continued substantial frost.

While the river is flowing as normal at this moment, experts can’t be sure that no other ice jams are forming in the river further south, but they are planning to fly over the river to get a better view of the circumstances. The road will remain closed at least until after the emergency response team’s status meeting tomorrow morning, Wednesday, February 3.

So far, the bridge has not suffered any damage, even though the river pushed large masses of ice onto its banks, toppling a small Met Office Cabin (pictured below).

Travellers can make a detour around the north-east coast, through Húsavík, Þórshöfn and Vopnafjörður.

More info on the road openings and conditions there can be found on the website of the Icelandic Road Administration, but note that because of ice disturbance in the river, the flow and water temperature are not displayed correctly.

The measuring devices in the small cabin are still sending data to the Iceland Met Office despite toppling over when the river burst through a blockage of slush ice last Tuesday
Northeast Iceland Police. The measuring devices in the small cabin are still sending data to the Iceland Met Office despite toppling over when the river burst through a blockage of slush ice last Tuesday

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