Now is the winter of our discontent

This winter has been quite a ride. Iceland has been hit by several impressive storms since Decemeber that’s kept us mostly bottled up inside the apartment. Storms here usually consist of extremely strong winds and on occasion snow. The country has a color-coded warning system to advise on travel conditions. Yellow alerts have been fairly common, but orange is where things start getting really dangerous.

The storm season isn’t over yet, either. Just today we got word that we can expect a cyclone on Friday. The Reykjavík Grapevine has had a hard time keeping up with all of this wintry activity.

Winter storm warnings

Winter storm warnings

It’s not always wintery-doom here though. Some days it’s clear with beautiful blue skies. The wind may or may not be lying in wait around the corner ready to pounce on you, though. You never can tell.

There’s a term for that here, actually. Gluggiveður (Window Weather) is pretty common. Looking outside from the cozy heated apartment it can seem like a perfect day to go for a walk. Step outside and the needles slam into your face. Lovely!

Helgafell covered in snow

Helgafell covered in snow

There have been a few breaks here and there, thankfully. We’ve made it out and about a few times, and Wit’s school has only had a single day when it closed. There’s been a lot of cultural activities that we could have taken advantage of as well, but we seem to be on some unlucky timing with sicknesses in that regard. This past weekend was a winter lights festival downtown that we were hoping to enjoy, but Wit picked up the flu on Thursday and has been shut in ever since.

The biggest bit of poor timing was at the beginning of January when I had scheduled a trip back to the US for a work meeting (and delicious wings). The weather started to turn bad in the morning as I walked my way up to the center of Mosfellsbær to catch an airport shuttle. The wind and snow started picking up, but I made it all the way to the airport without incident. I breezed through security (thanks EU passport!) and was snacking at the gate with my Kindle and watching out the window as things got crazy.

There was a winter storm coming in, a big one. It was a red warning in the north of Iceland, but it wasn’t supposed to hit hard until the evening. Within 30 minutes of my sitting down, this is what the airport windows looked like:

Airport windows covered in snow

Airport windows covered in snow

The good folks at Keflavík airport were trying hard to get people out of there before things got really bad. They braved the winds to load our bags and had the crews standing by waiting for a break in the winds so they could take off. One plane did make it out, but then the delays began.

First thirty minutes, than an hour, then two. It was just getting worse outside all the time. We got word that the roads to and from the Airport had shut down just before they announced that all flights were canceled.

Lines at the Airport

Lines at the Airport

There was a nice mad rush to rebook leading to this epic line. I waited in this for about 4 hours that night and equally long for my bags to get rescued off the planes which were stranded outside where no workers could get to them because of the weather. The next day I eventually made my way back home, but sadly without delicious wings.

We’re ready to get out of the house and do something. With luck sickness and weather will align some day soon.