Avalanche risk likely into the weekend


Neskaupstaður. Photo/ICE-SAR Landsbjörg

An avalanche fell over a road at the tunnel entrance on the Norðfjörður side of Norðfjörður tunnel yesterday. The tunnel has been closed since yesterday due to the current snow danger. The weather forecast in the area is deteriorating from Wednesday, so we can’t expect the trials of the people of Norðfjörður, Seyðifjörður and Eskifjörður to be over.

Ólíver Hilmarsson, of the Icelandic Met Office’s avalanche watch office, says that it is not the first time that an avalanche has fallen at the tunnel, despite the small dike at the tunnel mouth. He says that there is a lot of snow everywhere around, but that work is underway to open roads to rescue the people.

Forecast not bright

Hilmarsson says the danger has not passed, pointing out that the weather forecast in the East Fjords at the end of the week is not good. Very heavy precipitation is forecast for Thursday and Friday, making the snow crisis worse.

“You can expect there will be a persistent risk of avalanches until this weekend,” says Hilmarsson, adding “there is a little break now, for a day or maybe, before the next blast.”

Asked whether the risk of avalanches is expected in other locations in the region, Hilmarsson says there is something to look at, but that it all depends on the weather forecast for the coming days. If the weather is warming, there is another potential threat.

Spring flood and squall snow flood risk

“If there is a warm and heavy rain, there might be a wet and squall flood, but we just need to look at the forecasts.”

A squall flood is a kind of an avalanche mixed with water according to Hilmarsson. Oftentimes the flood comes with a streambed, so there are other potentially hazardous places.

At the moment, however, he says that the forecast is of snowfall and the threat level is thus only in the reported locations of Eskifjörður, Seyðisfjörður and Neskaupstaður.

Asked whether there is a risk of avalanches in other parts of the country, Hilmarsson says there is no danger in other regions. There is a considerable risk in mountains including the Tröllaskagi peninsula and the northern Westfjords, so it is worth asking mountaineers and skiers to be cautious.


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