Iceland experiencing big thaw

The Ice and snow which have covered Iceland for an uncommonly long time began to melt this weekend, causing extremely slippery conditions and danger for pedestrians and drivers alike.

Along with the warmer weather came stiff breezes, which make driving in the countryside even more dangerous; especially in high-sided vehicles. Yesterday, the same was also true of Reykjavík city.

Even the studded winter tyres, which are common in Iceland, were not enough to help people travelling in the popular summerhouse area of Grímsnes yesterday. The local search & rescue team, Tintron, helped dozens of people whose cars had driven off the road; but members told reporters that in many cases the rescued cars slid right back off the other side of the road again. Tintron workers have been helping people at Grímsnes since Friday, but yesterday even they got into trouble and ended up advising people to stay at their summerhouses another night rather than attempt to drive home.

On a street in central Reykjavík yesterday an empty parked car crashed into another parked car as there was not enough traction for the car to remain still.

City authorities did not salt or sand any streets or footpaths yesterday (besides ensuring a few of the busiest streets in the city centre remained safe). With such changeable weather and such quick melting, salt and grit would have washed away. Municipal authorities will reassess the situation today.

Hospitals have also reported a high level of admissions with broken bones, sprains and twists.

Regular winter thaws in Iceland are common and streets usually go from snowy to clear relatively quickly; with only a day or two of slippery danger. This time it is different, however, because the cold spell has been so long and so much snow has accumulated during that time.