Workers Guide Bus on Foot in East Iceland Blizzard Skip to content

Workers Guide Bus on Foot in East Iceland Blizzard

Two men had to guide the driver of a bus through a whiteout by walking in front of the vehicle which was taking employees of the Alcoa-Fjardarál aluminum smelter in Reydarfjördur, east Iceland, to work from the neighboring towns Neskaupstadur and Eskifjördur due to a raging blizzard.

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The smelter in Reydarfjördur on a calm summer’s day. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The journey from Neskaupstadur to Reydarfjördur with a stopover in Eskifjördur, which usually takes 45 minutes, took almost three hours yesterday. Just the small stretch between Eskifjördur and Reydarfjördur, which usually takes five to ten minutes to drive, took nearly two hours to cover, Morgunbladid reports.

“We walked one and a half meters in front of the bus to edge ourselves forward through the worst stretch,” Sigurdur Sveinsson, leader of the Alcoa-Fjardarál potroom, described.

The weather was fine when the bus started at Neskaupstadur, Sveinsson stated. Then when they approached Eskifjördur, it was like hitting a wall, he described. They had to stop the bus and wait while the worst jet streams passed. “It was so stormy and there was so much snowblindness that we couldn’t see a thing in front of us anymore.”

He and the driver decided to walk ahead of the bus while another employee took the wheel with two men on the lookout to both sides of him. The walkers were located on either side of the road and managed to lead the bus through the worst part.

After that they could go back in and proceed a few meters at a time. “One could hardly stand straight outside but it came in handy to weigh 100 kilos,” Sveinsson commented.

The employees were supposed to arrive at the smelter at 8 pm and take over from the dayshift but they couldn’t get there until 9:50 pm.

By then all roads leading out of Reydarfjördur were impassible so those employees who lived elsewhere had to spend the night—some of them had to be back at work again early in the morning anyway.

The weather wreaked havoc in other parts of the country as well. Search and rescue team members were on the alert and were called out on many occasions, for example to assist commuters and prevent roof slates from coming loose in the storm.

Yesterday evening most roads in north and east Iceland were impassible. People are concerned about flooding in harbors because in addition to the storm, there is spring tide. A blackout occurred in a large part of northeast Iceland last night because a power line broke in the storm.

Conditions are still stormy across Iceland.

Click here to read more about the weather.

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