From Iceland — Houses In Danger From Avalanches

Houses In Danger From Avalanches

Published December 1, 2020

Photo by
Magnús Einar Magnússon/Vísir

The Icelandic Meteorological Office has completed a new risk assessment for avalanches in Flateyri. This was reported in Vísir this morning. The new assessment has placed about thirty houses in Danger Zone C–the top hazard level. A further seventy have reached the evacuation stage.

Two large avalanches struck Flateyri in a single night last January, whilst a third fell on Súgandafjörður. Following this, the Grapevine wrote an article on the grim reality of avalanches in Iceland, recalling the 1995 avalanches at Flateyri and Súðvík. People living in Danger Zone C are considered ten times more likely to die in an avalanche than a car crash.

Neither Vísir nor Fréttablaðið report which houses are in danger or what effect the new risk assessment will have on Flateyri’s residents. However, Fréttablaðið spoke to Tómas Jóhannesson of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, who said that “When conditions become very bad, there is a possibility that evacuation will have to be done to ensure safety.”

The areas above Flateyri were quoted as being a particular risk, and it was also pointed out that fortifications above the town would direct avalanches into the harbour, meaning that any avalanche would greatly damage business for Flateyri.

If the budget proposal is successful, the budget for the Avalanche Fund will be almost 2.7 billion ISK next year–an increase of 1.6 billion from this year. These funds are intended both for the construction and improvement of avalanches defences and for the purchase of residential housing in dangerous areas.

Similar risk assessments are being carried out in Ísafjörður, Bíldudalur, Siglufjörður, Ólafsfjörður and Neskaupstaður.

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