Athugið þessi frétt er meira en 7 mánaða gömul.

Wild and windy winter "worst in 20 years"

01.03.2022 - 14:19
Mynd: Vefmyndavél Vegagerðarinnar / RÚV
A steel-framed building was broken apart by wind in Hafnarfjörður on Friday, search & rescue teams attended over a hundred call-outs, and Hellisheiði and other important roads were closed once more. February was one of the coldest and windiest for many years.

There were further weather warnings for parts of the country yesterday, and March arrived today with yet more roads closed due to weather (including Hellisheiði) -- all major routes in Iceland are open this afternoon, however. 

While early winter was relatively mild, the latter parts of the season have been extreme in the south and west of Iceland. The Hellisheiði pass, on the main road between the capital and south Iceland communities including Hveragerði and Selfoss, has closed due to weather over a dozen times in February—sometimes for extended periods. 

Between 1st January and 15th February, Vegagerðin (the road and coastal administration) carried out winter servicing, such as snow ploughing, on 640,000 kilometres of road in the whole country. Last year, that figure was 374,000 kilometres. 

So far this winter, the City of Reykjavík has spent as much as 350 million krónur on clearing roads and paths, while the figure was no more than 150 million all last winter. 

Meteorologist Birta Líf Kristinsdóttir says it is rare for snow to last so long in the capital region. “It has been a long time now,” she says. “And actually, all of February has been pretty cold. You have to look back about 20 years to find such a cold February.” 

As well as being cold, February saw a conveyor belt of storm systems batter Iceland, with yellow weather alerts and orange warnings becoming almost normal. There were even red warnings on two separate occasions, which are very rare. The weather caused hundreds of millions of krónur in damage. 

Birta Líf says the met office issued roughly as many weather warnings in January and February as it did in all of 2021. 

ICE-SAR information officer Davíð Már Bjarnason told RÚV there has been a several-hundred percent increase in the number of search & rescue calls so far this year compared to usual. 

Landspítali national university hospital recorded just over 500 injuries caused by slips and trips in ice and snow last year, and already over 400 so far this year.  

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