The Icelandic Road Administration will now monitor wave conditions at Reynisfjara beach in south Iceland, RÚV reports. Reynisfjara is a popular tourist destination but due to the presence of so-called ‘sneaker waves,’ it can also be a dangerous one. There have been two deaths at Reynisfjara in the last two years, and many others have been caught in the dangerous surf there. The Road Administration’s hope is that by better monitoring the sea and wave conditions along the shore, authorities will be better equipped to anticipate dangerous conditions and proactively respond to them.
This monitoring system is actually the sixth of its kind that the Road Administration has installed at different locations around the country, such as in Faxaflói Bay between Reykjavík and the Snæfellsnes peninsula, as well as along the coastlines of the Westman Islands and Landeyjahöfn, where the Westman ferry departs from. The system installed at Reynisfjara is different, however, because it is the only one meant to provide information for people on land, rather than sailors at sea.
The system tracks how far up the shore waves are breaking, as well as wave height and length. A risk quotient is then calculated based on these factors and the respective heights of ‘characteristic waves’ that are measured at a depth of 10 meters (32 feet) at three different locations around Iceland, one of which is actually Reynisfjara.
Warning signs alerting visitors to the existence of dangerous waves along the beach have been in place for several years at Reynisfjara, although they are frequently ignored by tourists. It’s possible that in the future, red lights will be installed at or around the beach which will blink whenever conditions are particularly dangerous.