Visiting the Angry Sisters

Mount Hekla

Mount Hekla in South Iceland

Whenever I have a few minutes during the craziness of tax season, I check out the Daily Life column on The Iceland Review’s website. Yesterday’s entry by Katharina Hauptmann (half of the Daily Life columnists are from outside Iceland) had the following to say:

In the past two days news broke about unusual seismic activity around the volcano Hekla.

Naturally, it became talk of the town.

Officially, a level of uncertainty has been issued and the related parties continue to monitor Hekla closely.

So can you by keeping your eyes on the volcano with this webcam.

Actually, everybody was waiting for Hekla’s neighbor Katla to blow, as an eruption is more than overdue.

Now it seems that Katla’s little sister Hekla is keeping the world on tenterhooks.

Here in Iceland, one usually refers to Hekla and Katla as the “angry sisters.”

I was once told that volcanoes had women’s names in Iceland because their nature was just like women: unpredictable and explosive.

During my upcoming visit to Iceland, I hope that neither Katla nor Hekla nor the dread Eyjafjallajökull erupt, because I will be spending four days in the South of Iceland in areas that would have to be evacuated (Hvolsvollur and Heimaey). And if it happens while I am in Höfn for two days, I will have to go all around the island to return to Reykjavik.

In European history, it is Hekla (shown above) that has the horrendous reputation. During the Middle Ages, it was widely regarded as the mouth of hell, and fishermen could see its eruptions from hundreds of miles away. By the way, there is a Hekla webcam you can visit. Just note that Iceland is on or near Greenwich Mean Time, and it is likely to be night there when you try.

You may recall the widespread cancellation the last time Eyjafjallajökull erupted twice in 2010. Newspapers around the world showed photographs of the devastation:



With volcanoes, one could get a day or two of warning before—literally—all hell breaks loose. But isn’t that all part of the fun?