Tourists In Grave Danger During Rock Storm At Black Sand Beach

Tourists In Grave Danger During Rock Storm At Black Sand Beach

Published March 29, 2018

Alice Demurtas
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Tourists were in great danger yesterday morning, when the windstorm at the black sand beach of Reynisfjara acquired such strength that the wind began lifting rocks and pebbles along with the sand, Vísir reports.

Closed roads and windstorms

The black beach on the south coast of Iceland is infamous for its dangerous Killer Waves, and it’s especially treacherous during bad weather. The roads were closed yesterday morning after the Met office issued a storm warning for the southeast of Iceland, from the area of Mýrdalssandur to the glacier Öræfajökull. The wind was blowing 40 meters per second all along the coast.

Most tour buses were stopped by the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and forbidden from going further. “I had a school group with me but we had to change our schedule,” a tour guide said. “But the teachers were okay with that. There is nothing you can do when the weather is like this. You can’t just change it.”

Despite the guides’ concerns, however, tourists didn’t seem to mind the weather conditions too much. “It’s windy and the car shakes quite a bit, but it’s fun,” a group of tourists from the US said.

Down at the black beach

Other tourists, however, got a whole different taste of yesterday’s weather conditions. Even though a storm warning had been issued early in the morning, the traffic on Route 1 was still substantial, with some tour guides managing to drive as far as the black beach. Ragnar Heiðarsson, who went to Reynisfjara with a group of Chinese tourists who were visiting Iceland for only three days, became really concerned with the safety of his passengers once he realised how bad the weather was.

If anything, the tourists seemed galvanized by the weather. According to Ragnar they kept getting closer to take pictures of the waves and the storm. “People kept going in, but that was no sand storm, it was a full on rock storm,” he explained. “Some of them crawled back to the bus, but what I was most worried about was the car. There were so many rocks in the air that the windows could have easily exploded.”

Ragnar even considered calling the police, to close up the area. “These are not travelling conditions that Icelanders would accept,” he added. “So we shouldn’t be bringing tourists there, either.”

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