Young Woman Died from Cold-Weather Exposure in December

A woman in her forties was found dead not far from her home near Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær on December 20, RÚV reports. The precise time of her death remains unknown.

The storm before Christmas

Following heavy snow in the capital area during the days leading up to Christmas, Reykjanesbraut – the road leading to Keflavík Airport – became impassable. The closure led to numerous flight delays and cancellations, with many travellers expressing their criticism of the Icelandic authorities.

During the time of the storm, a woman in her forties – living in Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær – was on her way home on foot. She was found dead near her residence on December 20. She died from exposure to cold temperatures. The precise time of her death is unknown.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Chief Inspector of the Capital Area Police, Grímur Grímsson, stated that there was no evidence of foul play.

Death from exposure in Iceland is extremely rare, but the cold snap that has persisted in the country over the past six weeks has been one of the worst in years.

Hypothermia on the Rise at Reykjavík Beach as Winter Sets In

As winter sets in around Iceland, hypothermia is becoming increasingly common among open-water swimmers at the Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach in Reykjavík, according to Department Head Óttarr Hrafnkelsson.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Hrafnkelsson implored patrons to exercise caution and good judgment. Exhaustion and hypothermia among patrons have put a significant strain on Nauthólsvík’s staff (as many as four patrons in one day have suffered exhaustion from swimming in the frigid waters, Mbl reports).

In his announcement, Hrafnkelsson advised amateur swimmers to stay close to land in order to ensure safe passage from water.

“The Geothermal Beach is a bathing place. Our job is to maintain a sanitary and safe environment: a hot tub, a steam bath, toilets, showers, and a locker room. It is worth pointing out that none of our employees’ job description involves rescuing swimmers struggling at sea. Besides, when the water is four-degrees or colder, swimming with another person to land is nothing short of impossible.”

The Nauthólsvík beach was opened in 2001 and it attracts over 500,000 guests annually. Over the years, open-water swimming has become increasingly popular among patrons of the beach (and Icelanders generally). The temperature of the ocean varies from around -1,9°C during the coldest winter months and around 17°C in the summer.