Travel warning: dangerous weather today puts halt on Iceland thaw

Despite yesterday’s news that Iceland was experiencing a mid-winter thaw, a storm hitting the country today is causing widespread disruption and all unnecessary travel is strongly discouraged. Many cars are stuck and at least one electricity cable is down.

The latest information is that all roads in southwest Iceland and the Westfjords are either impassable, or very nearly. Those without large 4×4 cars on winter tyres and previous experience should not drive today if at all possible. That is the advice of search & rescue workers.

Heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures and southwesterly winds from 18 all the way up to a massive 30 metres per second are the problem.

The storm is expected to pass around midnight and tomorrow is set to be very calm, bright and sunny across most of Iceland – although temperatures will remain low. The warm weather and thawing snow, which were themselves causing havoc over the weekend, are set to return on Friday, with a warm and rainy (and blustery) weekend in prospect.

Back to today though, Road conditions are extremely challenging across the whole country, with Route 1 closed to all vehicles at Hellisheiði. More can always be seen about current road conditions here.

The high winds have grounded all domestic flights out of Reykjavík this morning, with no indication that they will be able to take off this afternoon. The Westman Islands ferry has also been cancelled this morning; as have scheduled intercity coach services.

International services to and from Keflavík are running as normal.

Electricity to the western Snæfellsnes peninsula was cut around 09.00 this morning and RARIK engineers have yet to locate the fault, so residents there do not yet know how long they can expect to remain in the dark.

And in Reykjavík, city streets are virtually impassable in some higher neighbourhoods and five city buses are stuck in the Höfðabakki area. Bus schedules are in disarray and trips east and north out of the city have been cancelled.

Given that the storm will pass tonight and tomorrow’s weather forecast is excellent, authorities hope to be able to plough urban and rural roads quickly in the morning.

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