The road along Súðavíkurhlíð and Eyrarhlíð in the Westfjords was closed on Sunday evening due to risk of avalanches, RÚV reports. The Road and Coastal Administration says several avalanches fell on the mountainside above the road during the closure but could not report their exact number. The local council leader of Súðavíkurhreppur says if road infrastructure is not improved, it is only a matter of time until a traveller gets hit by an avalanche.
Twenty-eight people who had been heading north found themselves stuck in the town of Súðavík overnight when the roads were closed for more than 12 hours yesterday. It was no easy matter to arrange accommodations for them in the town of 160, especially considering the current social restrictions, says council leader Bragi Þór Thoroddsen. “There is covid going on and there is a 10-person gathering limit,” Bragi stated. “I think we divided people between four places and people also stayed in cars, professional drivers, and even in boats.”
No injuries were sustained in the avalanches that fell on the mountainside during the road closure, though one car had to be dug out after it was buried in snow. Bragi stated that while there had fortunately been no accidents, there have been close calls, and it was only a matter of time before someone was injured or worse, in either an avalanche or landslide along the road.
Residents and others have called for a tunnel between Álftafjörður and Skutulsfjörður fjords, but no such project is currently included in the government’s infrastructure plans. “It appears that this is our private issue here, there are over 200 people in the district, but that isn’t the true traffic along this road. There is heavy transport, there are travellers driving between Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík to Reykjavík,” Bragi stated.
The town of Súðavík was hit by a devastating avalanche in 1995 that killed 14 people, including eight children, and injured 12. Nearby Flateyri experienced a deadly avalanche later that same year. Structures in Súðavík were moved following the disaster and avalanche barriers constructed in the region.