Blackout and Snow Storm Cause Dozens of Car Crashes

Reykjavík from above, housing crisis Iceland

A power outage coincided with a snow storm in Reykjavík yesterday afternoon, leading to traffic chaos. A number of central neighbourhoods experienced blackouts due to a high-voltage breakdown, while at the same time, motorists braved the storm with little help from malfunctioning traffic lights.

“What happened is that it snowed a lot in a very short amount of time, the snow got compressed down and became very slippery,” Árni Friðleifsson of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police told RÚV.

Around 30 traffic accidents had been reported to roadside assistance firm Arekstur when RÚV contacted them in the late afternoon. “We’ve dispatched all our cars and the traffic is completely halted,” said Arekstur CEO Kristján Kristjánsson.

Hospitals on back-up power

Due to the power outage, Landspítali hospitals in Fossvogur and at Hringbraut had to pull from back-up power. This was also the case for Reykjavík airport (RVK), which mostly services domestic flights. However, while both the airport itself and the air traffic control centre were operational, a blackout at the terminal delayed a flight to Akureyri for about an hour, as all luggage had to be manually checked in.

By evening, power had been restored. The rush hour traffic cleared up as traffic lights came back on and the storm cleared.

Lava-Related Cable Failure Leads to Blackout in Grindavík

A main cable failure under lava caused a power outage in Grindavík since 7:15 AM, with efforts underway using Landsnet’s backup generator for restoration. Despite challenges, authorities expect electricity to return later today after last weekend’s disruption due to a nearby eruption.

Landsnet’s backup generator to be moved to Grindavík

Electricity went out in Grindavík at 8 AM this morning when a main cable (i.e. trunk feeder), which is under lava, failed. Work is underway to restore electricity to the town.

“Electricity has been out since 7:15 this morning, and it seems that the main cable lying under the lava from Svartsengi to Grindavík has failed,” Sigrún Inga Ævarsdóttir, information officer with the utility company HS Veitur (which oversees electricity distribution in Grindavík) told Vísir this morning

She noted that efforts were being made to restore power using a backup generator from Landsnet, a public transmission system operator.

As noted by RÚV, HS Veitur had begun preparations for the connection of an overhead line as soon as the cable went under the lava. That work is, however, yet to be completed.

Expect electricity to be restored later today

“We are moving Landsnet’s backup generator back to town,” Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, public relations manager with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, stated, expecting electricity to be restored later today. “We are working on this. It will likely take some time to connect the backup generator, but hopefully, electricity will be back on then,” Hjördís added.

Electricity and hot water were cut off from Grindavík last weekend when an eruption began near the town, and the town was subsequently evacuated. Hot water and electricity had been restored to most of the town when the power went out again this morning. 

The formation of new crevasses in Grindavík has made the situation increasingly precarious in the town. 

Power Outage in Downtown Reykjavík

power outage downtown reykjavík

Parts of downtown Reykjavík were without power this morning due to a high-voltage failure.

According to utility company Veitur, work began on the power outage around 9:10 this morning. The outage is reported to have occurred around 8:00.

Some downtown businesses were affected, needing to open later because of the outages.

Veitur states that as of 10:05, power has been restored in all areas of downtown Reykjavík.

Power Outage Leaves Keflavík International on Backup Power

Keflavík airport

A power outage left all of Suðurnes, the part of the Reykjanes peninsula outside the capital area, without power for some time yesterday. As of the time of writing, power has been restored in all areas.

The outage began around 3:00 PM yesterday and power was largely restored by 6:00 PM.

For some time during the outage, Keflavík International Airport needed to run on backup power.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, Isavia information officer Guðjón Helgason said that all backup power generators were in operation, and that the operations were not affected. There were no disruptions to the electrical system, but no hot water was available for some time. Guðjón further stated that Keflavík was capable of running on backup power for significant periods of time.

Thankfully, the most serious disruption were to handball viewership. After Suðurnes residents expressed their fears that they may miss the South Korea – Iceland match, the local Search and Rescue team “Þorbjörn” stepped in.

Grindavík residents were invited to watch the match at the local Search and Rescue station, which has its own backup power generator. Bogi Adolfsson, chairperson of Þorbjörn, stated to Morgunblaðið that about 30 people were in attendance and that it was a “great atmosphere.” Iceland beat South Korea 38 – 25 in the Kristianstad match, Iceland’s last match in the D Group.

The power outage was caused by a disruption in a substation in Fitjar, a district in Reykjanesbær.

Power Outage for Half of Iceland Over Weekend

iceland power outage

Yesterday, September 25, half of Iceland was without power due an outage whose cause still remains unknown. Areas of Iceland affected include from Blönduós to Höfn, the entirety of northern and eastern Iceland. Such a widespread power outage is nearly unprecedented.

The power outage began around noon yesterday and is said to have last two hours in most regions and up to three in others.

A public Facebook announcement by Landsnet regarding the outages can be seen below.

The power outage was caused by a disruption to the Fljótsdal line, which runs from the Alcoa aluminum smelter to Kárahnjúkavirkjun. The cause of the damage is not known at this time.

In a statement to RÚV, Steinunn Þorsteinsdóttir, information officer at Landsnet, stated that the Fljótsdal line created a chain reaction, resulting in the widespread outages.

“It’s not very often we have nearly half the country without power at once,” she said. Alcoa aluminum smelter is also reported to have been offline during the outages.

“At this stage, we don’t know exactly what happened,” Steinunn said. “Our priority was to bring the electricity back to the area. Now that it’s back on, it’s time to take a look at what happened.”

Electricity Issues Drag On in North Iceland

power outage extreme weather

While electricity has been restored to most areas affected by last week’s extreme weather, many areas of North Iceland continued to run on reserve power supplies as of this morning, RÚV reports. A few small areas still remain without power. Necessary repairs to damaged power lines will take days to complete.

No power, heat, or phone reception

Snow, wind, and ice damaged power lines and posts in North and East Iceland last Tuesday and Wednesday when a winter storm blew across the country. The resulting outages left some 20,000 without power, some areas for as long as five days. In areas where the hot water supply relies on electricity, homes quickly got cold indoors. Some residents found themselves without electricity, heat, radio, or even cell phone signals, unable to reach help in case of emergencies.

“Many farms were off-line, internet out and phone networks for a while, communication with the outside world was none, you couldn’t even listen to the radio, it all dropped out,” described Agnar Þór, Magnússon, a farmer in Högrárdalur, North Iceland. “It was very uncomfortable to know nothing at all about what was happening.”

Ministers visit affected areas

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir visited some of the affected areas on Friday, along with four government ministers, where they met local authorities to discuss the situation. In addition, a response group was set up that morning to review the region’s infrastructure. Minister of Transportation and Local Government Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson expressed his wish to streamline the process of laying power lines, stating that the government should be able to overrule landowners or environmental activists who oppose they laying of power lines.

Álfhildur Leifsdóttir, a local councillor in the municipality of Skagafjörður, criticised Sigurður Ingi for the statement, saying it was an attempt to shift the responsibility of the government and its agencies to landowners and activists “at a time when honest self-examination of infrastructure has never been more necessary!”

Local authorities urge government to react

The municipality of Hunaþing vestra sent out a statement criticising the poor energy infrastructure and lack of reserve power. The municipal council’s director Ragnheiður Jóna Ingimarsdóttir says the council will be bringing the issue to the state government.

Boy’s Body Found in River

fatal accident Iceland

The body of 16-year-old Leifur Magnús Grétarsson Thisland, who fell into a river in North Iceland has been found, RÚV reports. had been assisting a farmer in Eyjafjörður on Wednesday night with clearing slush from a home power station when he fell into the river and was carried away. Extreme weather has caused extended power outages in North Iceland over the past week.

Police were informed around 10.00pm on Wednesday night about the accident. Search and rescue teams were dispatched to the scene right away. Over 40 volunteers, including a team specialised in water rescue, helped with the search. Conditions were extremely difficult, with freezing temperatures, strong winds, and heavy snowfall complicating the operation.

The boy’s body was found around noon yesterday and was transported to Akureyri by helicopter later that afternoon. Chief Inspector of Northeast Iceland Police Hermann Karlsson stated that an investigation into the incident will take place, as per standard procedure.

Leifur was born in Norway in 2003 and lived in the Westman Islands.

Coast Guard Ship Þór Supplying 70% of Dalvík’s Electricity

An employee of Rarik connects cables to the Coast Guard ship Þór

The coast guard ship Þór is currently supplying 70% of the electricity in Dalvík in North Iceland, Vísir reported this morning. The village experienced a complete electrical blackout following a historic storm earlier this week. Dalvík is the main village of the Icelandic municipality of Dalvíkurbyggð. It has a population of approximately 1,400 residents.

Þór to the Rescue

A Hercules aircraft, owned by the Danish air force, delivered a tonne’s worth of electrical cable to Dalvík yesterday. Employees of Rarik, the official energy corporation of Iceland, used the cables to connect Þór to the town’s electrical system. This marks the first time that Þór is utilized as a movable power station, a bulletin on the Icelandic Coast Guard’s states. The vessel is capable of transmitting 2MW of electricity:

“The ship was designed with the capability of delivering electricity to remote places during power blackouts. Before now, electrical companies and utility firms have not felt it necessary to utilize this feature of the ship.”

Working Around the Clock

Other parts of Dalvík are being powered by diesel backup generators, according to a bulletin posted on the homepage of Rarik. The announcement states that Rarik employees in North Iceland have been working around the clock over the past days. Despite having yet to restore electricity to approximately a quarter of the town (mainly businesses), many small victories were won last night, a Rarik employee stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið this morning.

It will still be a few days until the so-called Dalvík Line – a series of pylons that deliver electricity to the town – will be repaired. 20 pylons ruptured during the storm. Rarik may need to ration power to Dalvík, and residents are encouraged to be economical in their use of electricity. 

A Brief Overview

As noted by Morgunblaðið this morning, North Iceland is experiencing significant power outages. Electricity has been restored to almost all of the farms in Heggstaðanes and Vatnsnes in North Iceland, excluding two farms in Heggstaðanes and three in Vatnsnes. Reykjaströnd is still without electricity, and there are minor outages in Skagafjörður. The area surrounding Akureyri is experiencing more significant outages and it is unclear when repairs will finish. Most of Öxnadalur and Hörgárdalur is without electricity and so almost all of Laxárdalur. Svarfaðardalur is currently in a complete electrical blackout. The same is true for Tjörnes. Many residents of Öxarfjörður are without electricity, owing to at least ten power line poles having ruptured The rural area of Melrakkaslétta north of Kópasker, is without electricity. A diesel backup generator is supplying electricity to Raufarhöfn. The same holds true for Þórshöfn, Þistilfjörður, and Bakkafjörður. 

Rescue Teams Search for Teenager in River

extreme weather Iceland

A teenage boy fell into a river in North Iceland last night while helping a farmer restart electricity on the farm, RÚV reports. The boy, whose age has not been made public, was carried away by the stream and remains missing. The farmer managed to stay clear of the wave of slush that pulled the boy into the water. Extreme weather has been causing power outages across Iceland over the past two days.

The river in question is Núpá, located in Eyjafjörður, South of Akureyri. Superintendent of Northeast Iceland Police Jóhannes Sigfússon says the police were notified of the accident around 10.00pm last night.

Carried away by a wave

“There’s a home power station there and a reservoir and a dam which they were working to clear slush from the intake. They stood there up on the wall and one of them managed to escape from the wave but not the other and [he] landed in the river which took him with it.”

Search and rescue forces and police were then notified of the incident. All teams in the area attending to various weather-related calls were then sent to look for the boy. Travel was difficult, as roads to the farm were impassable. So far, the search has not been successful.

Weather remains harsh

More than 40 individuals were on call that night, including a ten-member group specialised in water rescue, divers from capital area firefighting crews, and police special forces. Further assistance has been called to the scene, and 20-25 others are on their way from Blönduós and Reykjavík to assist with the search. Conditions at the scene are extremely difficult.

“The weather has just remained very similar,” Jóhannes says. “It’s slightly windy weather and freezing so there’s high wind chill and hard to work for many hours under those conditions as people cool down. Then of course there is darkness, winter darkness here now, and in addition to that there’s slush in the river which makes it even more difficult.”

Storm Moves East Across Iceland

Winter storm Iceland

While weather is calming down in West Iceland, the worst storm of the year is moving eastward across the country. Conditions are yet to worsen before they improve in the Northeast, East, and Southeast regions of the country. Most major roads in those regions are closed and power outages are affecting residents in both North and East Iceland. No casualties have resulted from the storm.

Power outages

Egilsstaðir, East Iceland’s largest town, was reported to be without power around 10.00am this morning. According to Landsnet, power went out around 10.30am this morning in East Iceland between Vopnafjörður and Höfn. Wind speeds have reached 38 metres per second along the country’s east coast, and in Hamarsfjörður gusts of wind reached speeds of 50m/s.

Sauðárkrókur was left without electricity when transmission lines were damaged yesterday evening. Firefighters were working early this morning to clean the lines of ice and snow in an attempt to get them working again.

https://www.facebook.com/landsnet/photos/a.308483769485660/1028144770852886/?type=3&theater

 

Near Akureyri and Dalvík, as well as in other regions, live power lines weighed down with ice and snow are sagging dangerously close to roads.

This morning, RÚV reported that the Westfjords were not receiving power through the national transmission system and all towns in the region were running on reserve power. Outages are still occurring in less populated parts of the region, such as Árneshreppur and Gufudalssveit.

Search and rescue busy

In Suðurnes, Southwest Iceland, search and rescue teams responded to nearly 100 calls yesterday evening alone. At Ólafsvík, North Iceland, some 20 search and rescue volunteers were on duty overnight, but as the storm winds down, many have been sent home. Search and rescue officials stated that the public seems to have taken the weather alerts seriously and was overall well prepared.

On the Westman Islands, wind and flying debris caused significant property destruction. Wind speeds on Heimaey island reached 40 metres per second yesterday evening, with gusts as fast as 52m/s. As of this morning, search and rescue teams on the island had responded to 100 calls. “I don’t know what we Icelanders would do if it weren’t for search and rescue forces,” stated Westman Islands Mayor Íris Róbertsdóttir.

Though weather is improving along the country’s west coast, most road still remain impassable across the country. Readers are advised to stay updated on road conditions and weather conditions online and avoid travel.