Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

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  • Weather

    Travel alert: Ring Road in Öræfasveit district, SE Iceland, closed due to storm

    By Staff

    Ring Road Closed Dangerously powerful windgusts on the Ring Road in the foothills of Öræfajökull glacier. Photo/Police in South Iceland.

    The Ring Road between Skaftafell visitor center in Vatnajökull National Park and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon has been closed to all traffic due to a violent storm. Several roads in West Iceland and the Westfjords have also been closed to all traffic due to the storm.

    Read more: No travel weather today: Yellow alert issued for all of Iceland

    Drivers are urged to pay close attention to the weather forecast, all weather alerts and road conditions as well as travel alerts from ICE -SAR before embarking on any travel outside urban areas.

    Storm gusts can reach hurricane force, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles, or even blowing cars off the road. Visibility is reduced in most parts of Iceland due to snow or blizzard.

    People are urged NOT to travel in West Iceland, as dangerous winds can be expected on the Ring Road in West Iceland. Expect strong wind with gusts more than 30 m/s (108 km/h / 90 mph) between Reykjavík and Borgarnes. 

    The following roads have been closed due to the weather:
    • The Ring Road across Holtavörðuheiði heath between West and North Iceland is closed.
    • Steingrímsfjarðarheiði heath which connects the Westfjords to West Iceland is closed.
    • The Ring Road in North Iceland from Hrúatfjörður fjord to Vatnsdalur valley in Húnafjörður fjord is closed.
    • The Ring Road in South West Iceland between Skaftafell visitor center and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is closed.
    • Road 54 along the southern Snæfellsnes peninsula is closed.
    • Roads 862 and 864 to Dettifoss in North East Iceland are closed.
    • Road 64 towards Flateyr, and road 61 between Ísafjörður and Súðavík in the Westfjords are closed
    • All roads in the Central Highlands are closed to traffic. 
    Road conditions 21.11.17 b
    Road conditions 21. Nov 17 Icy roads, blizzard, blowing snow, storm and impassable roads. Photo/IRCA

     

  • Geology

    Bárðarbunga, the other monster volcano of Vatnajökull trembles: Two sharp 3.9 magnitude quakes

    By Staff

    Growing activity Steam rising from ice cauldrons in the Bárðarbunga caldera. A recent spike in geothermal activity in the volcano has managed to melt a hole through the glacier's ice cap. Photo/Jóhann K. Jóhansson

    Two sharp 3.9 magnitude earthquakes were detected in Bárðarbunga volcano shortly before two in the afternoon. The two quakes have been followed by a few smaller quakes. The first quake hit at 13:53, followed by a second quake two minutes later. The volcano has been showing signs of growing activity in recent weeks. A second giant volcano in Vatnajökull glacier, Öræfajökull has also been showing signs of growing activity.

    Read more: Quick primer on Bárðarbunga, Iceland's most powerful volcano

    Quakes 21.11.17
    Quakes 21.Nov 2017 The two powerful quakes are marked with green stars. Photo/IMO

    The Seismic Monitoring System of the the Icelandic Meteorological Office detected the first quake 8.0 km (5 mi) north-northeast of the center of the volcano's caldera at a depth of 4.6 km (2.9 mi). The second quake had an epicenter in 6.1 km (3.8 mi) northeast of the caldera center at a depth of 3.9 km (2.4 mi). 

    Any quake in an active volcano which is larger than three on the Richter scale is considered a powerful quake. Quakes larger than 4 are relatively rare, and are associated with significant geological activity in the volcano.

    Earlier this month scientists discovered a significant increase in geothermal activity in the volcano. Aerial reconnaissance of the volcano revealed that the geothermal activity has melted a hole in the glacier ice cap. Steam plumes can now be seen rising from the ice cauldrons created by this activity. 

    Read more: Scientists determine sub-glacial volcano Bárðarbunga is showing increased geothermal activity

    At the end of October the volcano was hit by the most powerful quakes since the end of the 2015 Holuhraun eruption. The eruption produced the largest lava field in Iceland since the 18th century. 

    Growing signs of activity

    volcanoes of Vatnajökull - Bárðarbunga
    Volcanoes of Vatnajökull Bárðarbunga, Grímsvötn and Öræfajökull. Photo/Vísir, Garðar

    Bárðarbunga is not the only Icelandic monster volcanoes showing worrying signs of growing activity. Öræfajökull, which is located in the southern part of Vatnajökull, has been stirring in recent years. These two are considered to be among the most powerful in Europe, if not the world. Öræfajökull is responsible for the second deadliest eruption in Icelandic history.

    No signs of imminent eruption
    Seismologists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office stress that there are no signs of imminent volcanic activity. The giant sub-glacial volcano has been very active since the end of the Holuhraun eruption, showing signs of significant activity in recent weeks. 

    The third major volcano of Vatnajökull, Grímsvötn in the central part of the glacier, has not shown signs of growing activity.

    Read more: Uncertainty phase still in effect for Öræfajökull volcano

    The quakes in Bárðarbunga are caused by the re-filling of the volcano's magma chambers which were emptied in the 2014-15 Holuhraun eruption. As magma is thrust from the earth's mantle up into the crust the earth trembles.

  • General

    Icy paths at Geysir geothermal area: Two travellers slip taken to hospital after slipping yesterday

    By Staff

    Strokkur erupting Geysir geothermal area is one of the most popular destinations on the Golden Circle. Photo/GVA

    Two foreign travellers were taken by ambulance to the hospital after slipping on icy walking paths in Geysir geothermal area yesterday. The two visitors are believed to have suffered broken bones. 

    Visitors are warned the walking paths at the popular destination on the Golden Circle are extremely slippery and dangerous. Visitors are urged to use snow or ice traction cleats.

    Walking paths at many popular tourist destinations in South Iceland are covered in ice, making them very dangerous. The lower path at Gullfoss waterfall was closed earlier this month due to ice and slippery conditions. In past years visitors have frequently ignored such closings.

    Read more: Walking path to Gullfoss waterfall closed due to ice and dangerous conditions

    The chief nature guard for South Iceland told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that accidents are not very common at these sites, despite the large numbers of people who visit every day year round, during all kinds of weather. Many  travellers are woefull ill prepared for the conditions and weather he points out. 

    The high level of humidity and mist at Gullfoss waterfall and in the Geysir geothermal area make it almost impossible to eliminate ice from the walking paths. Visitors are therefore asked to show extreme caution and to use cleats.

  • Economy

    Iceland has most developed information society worldwide, according to UN report

    By Staff

    IT and Black sand beaches A subterranean telecommunication cable being laid across the  glacial outwash plains and black sand beaches of South Iceland. Photo/Vísir

    Iceland has replaced South Korea at the top of the ICT Development Index. The index, which tracks key measures of the development of information and communication technology worldwide, is prepared by the International Telecommuncations Union, a specailized UN agency. South Korea has topped the list for the last several years. 

    ICT statistics
    ICT statistics, by ITU

    The index is published in the ninth annual Measuring the Information Society Report (pdf). The reoport analyzes the state of global ICT development, tracking the development of information and communication technology in 176 member states of the ITU. Iceland exceeds the European and world averages on all key indicators. The report finds that Iceland has a mature and advanced telecommuncation market and a population wich is quick to adapt to new tecnologies:

    "Iceland is one of the world’s most advanced information societies. High speed mobile and fixed networks are commonplace in Iceland. Almost the entire population of Island is online and ardent Internet users. The government continues to promote network expansion in underserved areas and a regulatory regime that supports competition and innovation is in place."

     

  • Weather

    ICE-SAR assisted people stuck in cars on Holtavörðuheiði heath overnight

    By Staff

    Road conditions in West Iceland The Ring Road across Holtavörðuheiði heath is closed. Difficult and challenging conditions on all other roads. Photo/IRCA

    The Ring Road over Holtavörðuheiði heath, which separates North and West Iceland, is impassable and has been closed to all traffic. ICE-SAR companies from West and North Iceland assisted travellers who had gotten stuck on the heath while trying to cross the heath. The rescue operations had been completed early morning. Visibility on the heath is zero.

    Read more: No travel weather today: Yellow alert issued for all of Iceland

    According to the local news site Vísir search and rescue companies in North Iceland were asked to come to the rescue of travellers who were stuck in vehicles on the heath shortly after midnight.

    The National Broadcasting Service reports that due to extremely difficult conditions on the heath it took these companies three full hours to reach the top of the heath. By that time ICE-SAR companies from West Iceland had been dispatched to help people who were stuck on the southern part of the heath.

    ICE-SAR assisted travellers in four passenger cars who were stuck. Seven trailer trucks which had also gotten stuck were left on the heath. When the heath is plowed after the weather has improved the trucks will be removed and the road re-opened. It is not clear when the heath will be re-opened. In the meantime the Ring Road between West and North Iceland will remain closed to all traffic.

  • Weather

    No travel weather today: Yellow alert issued for all of Iceland

    By Staff

    No travel weather Conditions on Holtavörðuheiði heath which was closed to traffic after numerous cars had gotten stuck. Photo/Steingrímur Þórðarson.

    If you were planning a road trip today you might want to reconsider. The Icelandic Meteorological Office has issued a yellow weather alert for all of Iceland. Storm or gale force winds and snowfall will make driving extremely challenging or dangerous. Drivers are warned to expect powerful gusts of wind, especially in South East Iceland, which can blow cars off the road.

    The Road and Coastal Authority has warned that several heath roads have already become impassable due to snow, including Holtavörðuheiði heath, which connects West and North Iceland. Blowing snow and blizzard conditions will create very poor visibility and driving conditions, both in mountain passes and on the low-land roads.

    Travellers are asked to study the weather forecast as well as updated weather alerts and road conditions carefully before embarking on any trips today.

    Dangerous driving conditions
    Travellers are cautioned to expect a winter storm today, snow and northerly or northeasterly gale force wind with strong windgusts. The storm is expected to hit West, South West and South Iceland around noon or early afternoon, and continue until early tomorrow morning. Snowfall and blowing snow, coupled with powerful winds will create blizzard conditions with low visibility. Ice and slick patches on roads add to dangerous driving conditions.

    Read more: Watch a video of a RV get blown off the road just north of Reykjavík

    The IRCA has issued a warning for South East Iceland, effective from noon, warning that people not travel along the Ring Road in the western foothills of Öræfajökull glacier due to violent winds. Blizzard conditions near Skaftafell visitor center in Vatnajökull National Park and violent gusts of 40-45 m/s (90-100 mph) across the cross the road make traveling in the region extremely dangerous. The weather in the region will not improve until early Wednesday morning. 

    Winds in South and West Iceland can also be a serious threat to travellers. The IMO is expecting sustained windspeeds of 18-23 m/s /33-51 mph), with individual windgusts reaching above 30 m/s (67 mph).Such wind can be hazardous for vehicles, especially those vulnerable to wind such as buses, RVs or cars pulling travel campers.

    Travellers are warned that powerful windgusts are most likely near mountains. On the Ring Road in West Iceland Mount Esja, north of Reykjavík and Hafnarfjall east of the town of Borgarfjörður, as well as the southern shore of Snæfellsnes are particularly dangerous. On the Ring Road in South Iceland the Eyajföll mountain range, south of Eyjafjallajökull glacier is known for especially dangerous winds during storms like this. 

    Road conditions 21.11.17
    Road conditions today Blizzard, snowstorms and closed roads. Photo/IRCA

     

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