An unusually high number of avalanches in Iceland have fallen across East Iceland, North Iceland, and the Westfjords in mid-January. This is from the Icelandic Met Office. There were 133 reports of avalanches in Iceland in 10 days. But the true number is likely higher. The Civil Protection Department has declared an uncertainty phase in the North Westfjords. And also North and East Iceland. Because the risk continues.
Westfjords, Northeast Iceland, and Eastfjords
Most of the 133 reports were from the Westfjords (52) and Northeast Iceland (41). The third-highest number were reported in the Eastfjords (24). “It is clear that many more avalanches have occurred without being recorded. Many fall off the beaten track, others occur without being seen, and not all avalanches are reported.” Of course heavy snowfall is the cause. The snow blanketing the slopes is considered unstable. However, the office reports that some avalanches have fallen in still weather.
Avalanches in Iceland have fallen on several roads across the country. Causing closures while snow is cleared. The Road and Coastal Administration notifies travelers of road closures across the country. The Met Office reports on avalanche risk.
No people have been injured as a result of the events. Though one recent avalanche in Skagafjörður killed at least three horses and destroyed a shed. One avalanche on the Skarðsdalur skiing grounds in North Iceland caused significant damage to the facilities. A third near Eskifjörður, East Iceland, damaged a shooting range and may have damaged facilities in the area as well.
Avalanches in Iceland are nothing new. There were catastrophic avalanches in the villages Súðavík and Flateyri in 1995. Which killed 34 people and caused extensive economic damage. Those avalanches made it clear that a substantial number of people in several Icelandic towns and villages live in areas where avalanche risk is unacceptable.