Hellisheiði Closed After First Snowfall of the Year

winter weather iceland

After the first snowfall of the year, Hellisheiði, the section of road connecting the capital region to the South Coast, has been closed.

Several weather warnings were in effect through the night, and much of West, Southwest, and South Iceland are still under a yellow warning. Travellers can expect high winds, and unnecessary travel is to be avoided.

Expect Closures

G. Pétur Matthíasson, a spokesperson for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, stated to RÚV: “This is the first weather like this here in the southwest of the country, where most of the traffic is. So, the conditions on Hellisheiði and Þrengsli [an alternate route to the South Coast] are not very good, which is why Hellisheiði has been closed due to the weather, and Þrengsli is at an uncertain stage.”

There are also reports of several stranded cars and drivers have encountered difficulties this morning due to severe conditions in the area. “This morning on Hellisheiði, there were quite a few cars that still had summer tires. The conditions were such that it’s not enough,” says G. Pétur stated to RÚV.

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration will reassess the situation throughout the day. Hellisheiði will be reopened as soon as possible.

There was widespread snow in the countryside this morning, including in areas of the capital region.

Get the latest information on weather conditions at the Met Office. Live information on travel conditions and road closures can be viewed at the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s travel website.

Nine Flown to Reykjavík Following Accident

TF-GRÓ Icelandic Coast Guard Helicopter

Following an accident on Suðurlandsvegur yesterday, January 3, nine individuals were flown to Reykjavík for medical care. The accident in question occurred shortly before 2:00. According to initial reports, the individuals are in stable condition.

The accident occurred east of Fagurhólmsýrar on the South Coast.

An SUV and a smaller vehicle were involved in the incident. In total, nine passengers were aboard the vehicles.

In total, two coast guard helicopters and one coast guard surveillance plane were dispatched. The two helicopters were sent directly to the scene of the accident, taking the first six individuals. The coast guard plane landed in the town of Höfn, taking the final three.

The accident was attributed to the weather, which has left much ice on the roads in the past days. Following the crash, a stretch of Suðurlandsvegur was closed to traffic, but has since been re-opened.

Both vehicles are reported as badly damaged. The individuals are reported to have suffered serious injuries as well, but are in stable condition.

 

 

 

 

 

More Road Closures Following Heavy Snowfall

winter weather road snow

Recent snowfall has led to road closures throughout the country.

Snow removal teams are working at full capacity, stated Eiður Fannar Erlendsson, overseer of winter service for Reykjavík City. With 20 vehicles, he estimates that it will be some four to five days until roads in the capital area are fully cleared.

As of the morning of December 27, Route 1 on the South Coast between the Markarfljót river and Kirkjubæjarklaustur is closed. Additionally, Hellisheiði, the important pass between the Reykjanes peninsula and Hveragerði is also closed. Road closures are subject to change, and travelers are advised to check safetravel.is for the latest information.

Conditions in Grindavík, a town on the South Coast of the Reykjanes peninsula, are also reported as being bad. The road to Grindavík is closed, with reports of cars abandoned in the snow. Road teams were at work in Grindavík until early this morning to ensure that healthcare workers could get to work.

Additionally, two houses in Mýrdalur, east of Vík, were evacuated due to avalanche risk.

Morgunblaðið also reports that December of this year has seen some 128 calls to ICESAR, Iceland’s volunteer search and rescue. Last year during the same time period saw 40 search and rescue calls, a significant increase.

All Roads Out of Reykjavík Closed

winter weather road snow

All roads out of Iceland’s capital Reykjavík are closed due to extreme weather conditions, including Route 41, the road to Keflavík International Airport. A yellow weather alert is in effect across the country, with strong winds and snow showers expected to continue until tomorrow afternoon in most regions. Travel is discouraged across the country.

Route 41 to Keflavík Airport, Route 1 between Reykjavík and South Iceland, as well as between Reykjavík and West Iceland, Route 39 to Þorlákshöfn (Þrengslin) and routes to Þingvellir National Park are all closed as of the time of writing. Southwesterly winds between 13-20 metres per second are hitting the country, bringing snow to all regions throughout today. Conditions are expected to improve in Northeast and East Iceland this afternoon. The remaining regions of the country, however, will continue to experience high winds and snow until Friday afternoon.

Travellers can monitor road conditions on road.is.

Route One Closed Between Reykjavík and South Iceland

winter weather iceland

Route One, or the ring road, is closed over Hellisheiði, between Reykjavík and South Iceland. Dozens of cars are stopped on the road, waiting for it to reopen. An orange weather alert has been issued for this afternoon in most of the Westfjords and a yellow weather alert in North Iceland. Travellers face icy and snowy conditions around the country.

Iceland has been hit by extreme weather in recent days, causing flooding and wind damage, as well as stranding travellers around the country. Ski parks Bláfjöll and Skálafell, near Reykjavík, will both be closed at least until this weekend as crews work to repair power lines destroyed in the storm.

Travellers are encouraged to monitor weather and road conditions on road.is.

Road Closures Across West Iceland As Extreme Weather Continues

winter weather road snow

Major routes across Southwest Iceland and the Westfjords are closed due to stormy weather conditions. A yellow weather alert is in effect throughout the day in Southwest and West Iceland, the Reykjavík capital area, and the Westfjords. Travel in those regions is discouraged.

Easterly winds reaching speeds of 15-20 metres per second are forecasted in the Westfjords today, carrying blowing snow and causing poor visibility. Conditions are expected to worsen tomorrow morning in the region. In the Breiðafjörður region, West Iceland, stormy conditions will moderate during the night but worsen again tomorrow morning. In the Faxaflói region, wind gusts could reach speeds of 35 metres per second, making driving hazardous, and waves along the shoreline could reach 10-12 metres.

In the Reykjavík capital area, conditions are expected to improve after noon today, and in Southwest Iceland by around 4:00 PM. The Ring Road is closed between Reykjavík and Hveragerði, South Iceland. Readers can monitor weather conditions on the Icelandic Met Office website. And road conditions on road.is.

Pilot Program Could Increase Access to Westfjords Over Winter

There will be increased snow plowing on Strandavegur, a coastal road that runs through the Westfjords municipality of Árneshreppur, from January to March. Per a press release issued by the government on Thursday, snow will be removed twice a week, weather conditions permitting. This pilot project is a collaboration between the Icelandic Regional Development Institute, the Westfjords Regional Development Office, and the municipality itself, and is part of the Fragile Settlements initiative, which aims to strengthen select rural communities throughout the country.

Golli

Strandavegur is an 80-km [50 mi] road that runs along the coast from Bjarnafjörður to Norðurfjörður. Much of the road runs through an area known for avalanches during the winter. Adding the fact that the road is not in terribly good shape, this generally means that authorities are frequently unable to remove snow on Strandavegur or keep it open in the winter. Limited reception also means that it’s more dangerous for employees and travellers to use this route during difficult weather.

If successful, the pilot program could have a significant impact, allowing increased access to a region popular with travellers but largely inaccessible for much of the year. The Westfjords are, perhaps, on even more tourists’ bucket lists these days: in November, Lonely Planet named it one of its top ten regions to visit in 2022.

Snow removal on Strandavegur will be handled by locals and the Icelandic Road Administration, which will maintain the twice-a-week schedule provided that there is no risk of avalanche and that weather conditions will not put employees at risk. The Road Administration will finance the pilot project with an eye to determining whether it will be possible to continue winter snow clearance along the seaside road throughout the winter and if so, how it can be done in a safe manner on a long-term basis.

Hellisheiði Road Closed Tomorrow

Route One over Hellisheiði heath.

A section of Route 1 between Reykjavík and Hveragerði will be closed tomorrow in both directions for paving, RÚV reports. The road over Hellisheiði will be closed from 9.00am to 8.00pm tomorrow for the paving of its easternmost section. Traffic will be directed to detour via Þrengslavegur (Route 39).

The road was initially scheduled for paving today but the work has been delayed due to weather.

Ring Road Closed in Southeast Iceland Due to Mudslide

The Ring Road (Route 1) is closed in Southeast Iceland due to a mudslide. The closure is between Höfn and Djúpivogur. There is a yellow weather alert in the area.

Wet weather in Southeast Iceland is likely the cause of a mudslide that has closed the Ring Road. Thankfully, conditions are expected to improve this afternoon. Until then, heavy rain and low visibility are expected in the area.

More information on when the road will reopen will be available around 4.00pm today.

Travellers in the region should be aware of the increased risk of landslides due to wet conditions and are encouraged to monitor road conditions online or by calling 1777 (+354 522 1100 from non-local phones).

Drivers Snowed in on Ring Road Overnight

Nearly a hundred and fifty people had to be rescued by ICE-SAR yesterday after their vehicles got snowed in on the Ring Road around the Eyjafjöll mountains and Jökulsá á Sólheimasandi glacial river in South and Southeast Iceland on Thursday night, RÚV reports.

The trouble started around 5pm on Thursday, when police in South Iceland were notified that a car had gotten stuck in the snow on the bridge over Jökulsá á Sólheimasandi glacial river, blocking all other traffic. By the time police arrived, many other vehicles had queued on either side of the bridge while heavy snow continued to fall. In the end, ICE-SAR had to transport passengers from 45 vehicles to temporary overnight accommodations, either at a hotel in Skógar or a shelter that the Red Cross opened in Heimaland.

Weather conditions and visibility were so bad on the Ring Road around the village of Hella that drivers who had gotten stranded in the area had to wait until close to 10pm for help to arrive. Some ICE-SAR rescue vehicles broke down in the snow on the way, while others had to see to other tasks before they could proceed to the stranded drivers. The weather finally began to clear around 1am and passengers were then transported to shelters.

All told, 38 people were taken to a hotel in Skógar, 100 were taken to the Red Cross shelter in Heimaland, and four people chose to stay in their own cars overnight.

Those who had stayed in the hotel or temporary shelter were driven back to their vehicles the next day. A snowmobile had been used to clear snow away from their cars and the roadway, but the road itself remained closed until Friday afternoon as conditions were still too dangerous for driving.