Severe storm hits Iceland

Wind and rain are not uncommon features of the Icelandic winter, but last night’s storm is still making a widespread impact.

An unusually intense Atlantic storm crossed southwest Iceland last night with fierce winds which left rescue teams busy and transport workers with nothing to do. The storm is now heading to north and east Iceland, but the wind intensity has already dropped.

The residents of Reykjavik and other towns in the southwest are waking up to the sight of damaged roofs and uprooted trees. Rescue teams in Hafnarfjordur, Reykjavik and Akranes are still at work trying to make buildings safe and the roads administration has warned against non-essential travel. Road conditions are difficult across much of Iceland this morning.

Coach journeys are delayed and all flights have been grounded — even international flights. It is hoped that the backlog will be cleared by lunchtime, however.

Four schools in the countryside are closed today for safety reasons; and school buses taking other out-of-town students to school did not run. Elsewhere, several other schools delayed their opening by an hour to allow parents to miss the worst of the weather as the storm passed.

Wind speeds regularly topped 30 metres per second (108 km/h, 67 mph) while the storm was raging with gusts up to 55 m/s (198km/h, 123mph).

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