Hurricane Diddú Posted by hulda on Dec 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
Earlier this week Iceland experienced hurricane Diddú. It was the worst storm since the one in 1991 and much, much stronger than a typical winter snow storm that I wrote about last week. You know the situation is dire when the Almannavarnadeild, Civil Protection -web page issues a warning for the whole country! On late Sunday they recommended that no one venture outdoors after five p.m. on Monday and warned about possible power outages (link)(link), and the voluntary rescue unit Björgunarsveitinn asked people to tie down everything that might blow away in the storm. The bus company Strætó announced they would stop driving around five p.m. and that the return of services would entirely depend on weather conditions. Even an uncertainty phase was announced: it means that things may turn really, really bad but there’s also a chance they won’t. Later on that turned into “danger phase” for the south and north though, so much for optimism.
(Btw the pictures used to illustrate this post are showing a typical Icelandic breeze. An Icelandic hurricane topples cars.)
This was all done so people could be prepared in advance, since there’s very little you can actually do when a storm like this one hits. On the day everyone had re-scheduled their days according to the warnings, left work and school early and the long wait began. Most of the day was deceivingly calm until at around midday the wind began to pick up little by little. Around six the storm finally hit the south part of Iceland, where all roads had been closed since midday. As the evening drew on almost all roads of the whole country were closed for traffic with the exception of midtown Reykjavík, but by then no one was driving anyway.
It was a long and loud night at our place and we were on an area least hit by the storm! It’s hard to describe the sound of wind that strong, it howls and rattles the whole building, shaking glass in window panes. Yet we were lucky, whereas the rest of the country was not so, Björgunarsveitinn voluntary rescue units worked hard all through the night answering hundreds of calls, but they still couldn’t attend anything but the very worst situations. It might say something about the storm that when a farmer called for help since the roof of his house had blown away leaving him exposed to the elements Björgunarsveitinn had to use their only armoured car to get to him (the man was thankfully fine).
All in all the country fared well, or at least ok-ish. No one died or was seriously hurt, although houses were damaged, windows broken, bits of roofs or whole roofs torn off, one house blown to pieces, car damage, and at the harbour of Reykjavík smaller ships fared badly although only one got loose and went drifting (by no small amount of irony that one’s name was Stormur)(more storm aftermath facts served here by Reykjavík Grapevine). We also broke some record wind speeds and there may even have been worse ones than the ones measured but alas, since the wind tore off wind detectors all around the country we can’t say for sure.
Many foreigners ended up having to weather this storm as well, so for future notice should you ever find yourself in Iceland when a hurricane is approaching, here’s your to-do list:
– Buy groceries in advance, cook food you won’t mind eating cold in case of power outages
– Have candles and a lighter/matches at hand in case of power outage
– Have your cellphone charged and don’t use it unless you really have to
– Tie down everything you can’t take indoors. Park the car in a place where it hopefully won’t be hit by many things.
– Don’t try driving anywhere in the storm. It’s a hurricane and there’s no exaggeration included.
– Follow directions from Almannavarning. If they say to stay at home after a certain time, do it even if it doesn’t look bad outside at the time. When the storm really hit it did it very suddenly.
– Really, stay indoors. Stay away from big windows just in case they break.
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