Iceland – Flooding in South and East After Rivers Overflow

Police and civil protection authorities in Iceland have warned of an increased threat due to heavy rain and flooding in the east of the country.

According to Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the water level of Lagarfljót lake (close to Egilsstaðir) rose substantially on 28 September and there is an increased risk of flooding. There is also the risk of landslides in the area due to the heavy rain.

Several rivers have overflowed in parts of south east and east Iceland after a period of heavy rain from 26 September. Levels of the Skaftá river at Sveinstindur and the Ölfusá at Selfoss, among others, increased dramatically. Levels have fallen over the last few hours as the rain has eased, although more rain is forecast and further flooding could be expected. Veðurstofa Íslands (Icelandic Meteorological Office) said earlier today:

“Continuing swelling of rivers with increased discharge and water level in the East fjords, especially near Lagarfljót and Egilsstaðir. Precipitation decreased yesterday afternoon, but it started to rain again early this morning.”

Roads in affected areas have been closed, leaving some communities isolated. Local media report that Iceland Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) set up emergency shelters to accommodate around 70 travellers who were left stranded.

Damage caused by the flooding so far has been limited to farmland and livestock. However, no damage to housing has been reported.

Authorities have declared a minor level emergency, referred to as a “phase of uncertainty”, meaning the flood event could lead to a threat to people, communities or the environment. Civil Protection Authorities are monitoring the situation.

ICE SAR carrying out livestock rescues in south eastern Iceland floods, September 2017. Photo: ICE SAR

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Flood Summary

Last updated: October 9, 2017
Event
South and East Iceland, September 2017
Date
September 26 to September 30, 2017
Type
River flood
Cause
Long-term rainfall

Locations

A - Sveinstindur
B - Selfoss
C - Egilsstadir

Magnitude

River level
2.36 metres
Olfusa at Selfoss - September 28 to September 28, 2017
River level
3.24 metres
Skafta river at Sveinstindur

Damages

Rescued
120 people
September 26 to September 30, 2017