Much of Iceland is digging out following a potent blizzard that brought winds topping 100 mph and yards of snow to some areas amid what one Icelandic meteorologist referred to as a “10-year storm.” As many as 20,000 people are without power as temperatures tumble into the teens and 20s, with a few communities isolated.
The storm was so severe that it prompted the Icelandic Met Office to issue an unprecedented “red alert.”
“This was the first red alert we’ve issued with the new system, (which has been) used since 2017,” said Hrafn Gudmundsson, a meteorologist with the Icelandic Met Office. “We’ve basically only been using yellow and orange colors. The orange color was for pretty serious storms, but this one was a level higher, I would say.”
The red alert was hoisted for northern parts of the country, while orange-level warnings covered the country’s capital, Reykjavik. The storm’s most intense impact struck on Tuesday.
“It was really windy in many places of course. There’s a weather station on a mountain in the southwest that is pretty high up actually, so it’s around (2,500 feet) above sea level, and we had (sustained) winds up to (130 mph).” Gusts reached as high as 149 mph at the station — Skalafell — which is about 20 miles east-northeast of Reykjavik.
There were preliminary reports that the winds there gusted to 159 mph, though that data have not yet been reviewed by Gudmundsson and his team.
Sustained winds hit 63 mph in Reykjavik proper. The storm exited the nation of 360,000 on Wednesday, though the impacts continue to be felt. Equally impressive were the mammoth snow totals that resulted. Or that are believed to have resulted.