Winter in Reykjavík

Yesterday we had the first snow-storm warning for the south-west corner of the country. It turned out to be more windy than stormy (in Reykjavík at least), but there was a considerable snowfall, meaning the snow-plows were in constant action all day long. This was taken yesterday afternoon when I was setting out for a stroll down the Laugavegur after work. Because the camera freezes an exact moment, rain and snow rarely look as impressive in photos as they do in reality (unless you do a long exposure, and then they look worse than they really are), but this gives a pretty good idea of what it was like when the weather was calming down:

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I walked to work that morning and because you learn early, when you live in a place like Iceland, to be prepared for anything, weather-wise, I dressed in my snow-storm outfit of several layers of clothes, down jacket, wind-proof pants, scarf, woolen cap, mittens and snowboots. This turned out to be a slight overkill, but it might have been necessary if the weather had turned out as bad as was expected. Here’s a selfie:

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And here are a couple of photos taken early this morning.

As you can see, there is a bit of snow, certainly enough to make it difficult for small cars to get in and out of parking spaces:

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Oh, the luxury of a heated parking lot!

(See explanation below the photo)

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The geothermal water from the central heating system goes into into a grid of pipes under the parking lot and melts the snow before going back to the pumping station to be heated up again through heat exchange and re-circulated into the heating system.

Of course, heated sidewalks and parking lots only really work when there is relatively little frost, say less than -3 °C.

When the temperatures drop lower than that, the heating system melts just enough snow to form a crust of ice with a thin layer of water underneath, which makes it rather ‘interesting’ to drive and walk on.

When the water has nowhere to go – as happens when the gutters are blocked by snow and ice – it forms a slush with the snow on top and you had better be wearing waterproof footwear to walk in it. Otherwise, it’s a fine thing to have.

 

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