A common misconception about Iceland is that it’s a winter wonderland nearly all year round. Not so. In fact, it doesn’t snow all that much in Reykjavík. Sure there is always some snowfall during the winter and we often get a white Christmas but there are definitely no guarantees when it comes to Icelandic weather. Last Sunday we did, however, wake up to a record-breaking snowfall in February, a whopping 51 cm, most of it coming down while we slept.
I decided to go out for a fun walk in the snow but when I opened the front door of my house I realized this would be no small feat. The snow from the roof of our house had filled the steps leading up to our front door and so I waded through the white obstacle course which reached my waist to get to the street, only to find out that, of course, our tiny street hadn’t been cleared and wouldn’t be for next couple of days.
It was truly a winter wonderland. Not only does everything look clean and fresh covered in pure white snow. There is also that wonderful silence that you only get in the city from massive snow like this. Only a few main roads had been cleared so there was no traffic but on top of that, the snow dampens every sound in the environment creating the kind of peaceful atmosphere that you’d only expect to find in a monastery or meditation center.
The rest of the day was spent outside. The adults shoveled steps, made pathways to their front doors and dug out their cars and garbage cans while the kids made snow caves and jumped from garage roofs only to vanish into the white backyards.
When it’s an actual test of endurance to climb out of your house and you can’t find your car in your small street (because all the cars are just similar sized white blobs) and realize that even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, you thank your lucky stars that a) it’s a Sunday and b) you have plenty of food in the house.
And while most of us had the time of our lives playing in the snow and chatting with our neighbors, the snow hit others quite hard. Aside from the people that literally had to get to work, there were those that had been out partying only to find out too late that the only cabs downtown were the ones that got stuck. Some waited for hours, others walked for hours. And then there was the poor lot that had gotten lucky that night and was left stranded in some stranger’s suburban home with no chance of getting anywhere anytime soon.
This may not be the most convenient weather but nothing will turn a dull neighborhood into a magical theme park quite as quickly as half a meter of snow.