Risk of Further Avalanches in East Fjords

avalanche neskaupstaður

Evacuation orders for areas of Neskaupstaður, Seyðisfjörður, and Eskiförður, all located in Iceland’s East Fjords, will remain in effect until tomorrow due to the ongoing risk of avalanches. Three avalanches fell in Neskaupstaður during the night and early morning of March 26-27. No serious injuries have been sustained.

Some 500 residents of the three towns have been evacuated from their homes due to the ongoing risk, although the Civil Protection and Emergency Management Department announced this morning that some Neskaupstaður residents could return home today. The emergency phase declared by the Civil Protection Department yesterday has been lowered to an alert phase.

Stormy weather may impact the lifting of evacuation orders. A yellow weather warning has been issued for Southeast Iceland on Wednesday morning that may increase the risk of avalanche in the East Fjords.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told RÚV she planned to visit the affected area at the first opportunity. Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson and Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson both stated the avalanches in Neskaupstaður gave reason to review avalanche barrier infrastructure in the East Fjords.

Read more about avalanche barriers in Iceland.

Evacuations In Siglufjörður Due to Risk of Avalanche

Siglufjörður, North Iceland.

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Response, along with the Iceland Meteorological Office, has raised the level of alert in North Iceland from Uncertain to Dangerous, due to a risk of avalanches. Nine houses in Siglufjörður will be evacuated.

The Met Office has raised the level of alert due to the risk of avalanches in North Iceland. Residential areas in the southernmost part of Siglufjörður will be evacuated and the police will be in touch with the people who need to leave their homes. This morning it was found that an avalanche had fallen on the Skarðsdalur Ski area and caused considerable damage. Luckily, no one was in the area at the time of the avalanche.

The houses that are being evacuated lie below the avalanche protection structure known as Stóri-Boli (Big bull). Built in 1998-1999, it has been hit by several avalanches in its time and stood its ground. The evacuation is a safety precaution, as a large avalanche hitting under the worst possible circumstances could possibly break the avalanche barrier. This was what happened in Flateyri last January when a large avalanche partially breached the avalanche barrier.

The Department of Civil Protection’s operations control has been activated in Akureyri and they are in constant communication with all appropriate parties to ensure communication. The Department of Civil Protection has sent a request to the Icelandic Coast Guard that a coast guard ship is in the area to assist if needed. They’ve responded positively and coast guard ship Týr is heading north.

The situation in Tröllaskagi will continue to be monitored and if needed, authorities will put the appropriate measures into effect. Residents in the area are asked to monitor the weather forecast closely; a considerable amount of precipitation is expected until the weekend. A yellow weather alert has been issued for the area, in effect until tomorrow noon.

Since yesterday morning, there’s been a stiff wind from the north with a considerable amount of snow. Yesterday, an avalanche fell on the road to Ólafsfjörður, effectively closing it to traffic, and today, large avalanches fell in Ósbrekkufjall mountain, one reaching all the way down to the sea. The Met Office expects northern and north-easterly winds and snow until the weekend. All roads to and from the Fjallabyggð municipality, containing the towns of Siglufjörður and Ólafsfjörður, are impassable due to the snow. Earlier this afternoon, a snowplough cleared a temporary path for a convoy of people who urgently needed to travel to or from the area.

The North-east Iceland Police Commissioner and the Department of Civil Protection and emergency response will continue to monitor the situation in cooperation with the Iceland Meteorological office.

In Focus: Avalanche Barriers

avalanche barriers

On January 14, 2020, three large avalanches fell in quick succession in the Westfjords of Iceland. One avalanche fell in Súgandafjörður, directly across from Suðureyri, causing a tidal wave to strike the town that, ultimately, did little damage. The other two fell in Flateyri, causing more significant destruction. The timing of the avalanches was noteworthy. […]

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