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Iceland Had 650 Avalanches Last Winter

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Iceland Had 650 Avalanches Last Winter

Avalanche in Northeast Iceland.

An avalanche cuts off a road in Iceland, February 2014. Photo: Arnór Erlingsson.

There were 650 avalanches in Iceland last winter, RÚV reports. This statistic was one of many reported in a recent report released by the Icelandic Met Office tracking avalanches in 2017-2018. Roughly a third of these avalanches, or 224, were considered to be severe. Per the published findings, there were also 31 landslides and two flash floods during the same season.

Roads were closed 62 times due to avalanches last winter, but the vast majority of these closures took place in the same place: Súðavíkurhlíð, in the Westfjords, which was closed 50 times last winter due to snow blockages.

Additional findings include the fact that there were 11 avalanche cycles recorded last winter, and that the majority of avalanches took place over the course of two days: February 10 and 11. There was a severe snowstorm in the Westfjords at that time, which caused 64 avalanches. Most of these took place on the road through the aforementioned Súðavíkurhlíð, but they also took place at other locations throughout the Westfjords.

Most of the avalanches recorded last winter, or 434 of 650, were dry slab avalanches. There were 66 wet slab avalanches and 65 were loose wet avalanches.

Sixty-three of the avalanches were caused by people. One hiker was seriously injured in one of these manmade events, and two experienced hypothermia after getting stuck in an avalanche on Grímsfjall volcano on the Vatnajökull glacial ice cap.

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