Major disruption from last storm & new weather warning
The orange weather warning this afternoon covers South Iceland, Faxaflói, Breiðafjörður, and the Westfjords. Travel conditions are expected to be very poor across the entire country, however.
Following heavy snowfall yesterday and last night, the morning rush hour in the capital region went relatively smoothly.
The Reykjanes peninsula, including Keflavík International Airport, was particularly badly affected last night.
A man in his forties died when his car crashed into a snow plough coming in the opposite direction near to the Straumsvík aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Hafnarfjörður. The accident occurred just after 21.00.
Conditions along Reykjanesbraut (the road between the capital and Keflavík) were so bad that dozens of cars got stuck and the police put out an appeal asking people not to abandon their cars and attempt to walk to the airport. All flights were cancelled anyway, the police assured.
Several flights diverted, landing in Egilsstaðir and London, while others that did make it to Keflavík had to wait on the tarmac until it was safe to unload their passengers. Most of the thousand-or-so passengers were safely in the terminal by midnight, but their options were limited while the road remained closed.
There were over 4,000 people stuck in the airport terminal at the peak last night, but they started streaming out when the road re-opened after 02.00. Nearly 2,000 people were put up in local hotels, or at the emergency reception centre diligently set up by ICE-SAR and the Red Cross in Keflavík.
It was the 18th Red Cross emergency reception centre opened in the space of just one month in Iceland. 180 stranded passengers slept there overnight and over 500 came in for food, drink, and shelter.
Coordinator Jón Guðmundsson said this morning that while most people were naturally wondering about the status of their planned flights, it was incredible to see how calm and helpful everybody was—including many passengers who pitched in to help set the facility up, including 200 camp beds.