Glacial flood in South Iceland

iceland-sattelite23There is a flood taking place along the Skafta river in southeast Iceland flowing from the Vatnajokull glacier.

The flood waters are expected to reach the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur this evening. Residents along the path of the flood have been warned to avoid travelling along the small local roads and seek safe ground.

It is not known how long the flood will last because it is not known which of the meltwater lakes under the glacier the flood is coming from.

Geothermal heat under the glacier creates lakes of meltwater in craters which eventually forces the whole ice cap to move and release the water in a great flood. It last happened in October 2008.

RUV reports that at Sveinstindur, the river level has risen by 40 centimetres and is flowing at 255 cubic metres per second instead of 190. The speed and size of today’s flooding would seem to suggest the flood is running from the smallest meltwater crater under Vatnajokull, according to the Icelandic Met Office.

There is no danger to traffic on the main roads in South Iceland at the moment and travellers can follow road conditions in English and Icelandic on www.vegagerdin.is.

Photo: Anders Peter Amsnæs

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