Dalalæða – Spectacular waterfalls of fog

Dalalæða – Spectacular waterfalls of fog

The setting sun can create quite some stunning special effects. It’s always captivating to see it plunging down into the sea, and light up the sky in brilliant colours. Sometimes, if the conditions are right, something truly spectacular can occur.

A magical phenomenon that literally produces waterfalls of fog.

I was incredibly lucky to run into this by chance, on the island of Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar), just off the south coast of Iceland.

Midnight sun and midnight moon

It had been a blissfully warm & sunny day, and I went for a midnight scramble up the cliffs around Herjólfsdalur, to watch the sun set and the moon rise in radiant glowing skies.

Midnight sunset on Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandMidnight sunset on Herjólfsdalur.

The natural amphitheatre of Heimaey is a spectacular sight at any time, yet even more enchanting when it’s basking in the glow of sunset light.

Midnight moonrise over Helgafell, just before an epic dalalæða comes flowing in…

Midnight moonrise over Helgafell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Mysterious fog

And then some fog came rolling in from the sea, slowly engulfing the entire island. It was lying low on the horizon, just off the southeastern coast, as the full moon came rising up above Helgafell. That was a stunning sight already.

Midnight fog and moonrise over Helgafell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandMidnight fog & moon over Heimaey.

But the magnificent display of fog that was about to ensue completely stole the show.

Dalalæða moving in over the sea, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Distant sea fog rolling in.

Dalalæða moving in over the sea, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Waves of fog pouring in

It rolled over the outlying islands, gushed into the harbour and flowed into the town below, wrapping itself around the nearby kletturs and volcanoes one by one. It slowly crawled up Eldfell, like mysterious fingers of fog – it looked like steam was coming off the crater itself.

Dalalæða rolling in over Bjarnarey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandDalalæða rolling over Bjarnarey, covering the island like a blanket.

Dalalæða fog flowing into Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandFlowing in and steaming off the Eldfell volcano.

Fog waterfall gushing into Heimaey harbour, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandGushing into Heimaey harbour.

Heimaklettur engulfed by a dalalæða of fog, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandHeimaklettur engulfed by fog.

Engulfed by waterfalls of fog

Then it came pouring over the edges of the ridge where I was standing. There were waterfalls of fog flowing over the rocks all around me. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was incredibly beautiful. I just stood there for well over an hour, utterly mesmerized, as I watched it all unfold from my clear and lofty viewpoint above. Until it was finally swallowed up by the fog as well.

Fog waterfalls pouring over the cliffs, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandSpectacular waterfalls of fog pouring over the cliffs.

I wish I’d taken a video of it too! It might have become viral like this one 😉 What I witnessed was definitely that kind of spectacular stuff. But I just didn’t think of it in that moment. I was too excited, jumping around from one ridge to another, focussed on capturing this otherworldly beauty in photo’s…

Kletturs disappearing into the fog, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandDisappearing kletturs.

Waterfall of fog over Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Klif being swallowed by giant dalalæða fog waterfalls.

Waterfalls of fog flowing into Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandFlowing over the ridge into Herjólfsdal.

Puffins in the fog, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandPuffins feeling comfortable & cozy in the fog.

Misty track

I had to find my way off the mountain through the thick of it… But I didn’t mind. I know this track very well, and I was so exhilerated to have witnessed such a magical sight! Being in the right place at the right moment when it accidently happened.

I have got to see another one! & get a video next time. Now there’s yet another thing I need to hunt… 😉

Heimaey harbour lights in the fog, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Misty harbour lights at the bottom of the track.

Dalalæða – the valley crawler

There’s actually a name for this phenomenon. It’s called ‘dalalæða‘ in Icelandic – a low-lying fog that flows into a valley, and sneaks up the surrounding hillsides, rocks and mountains. It can occur on a calm clear night after a warm and sunny day.

Dalalæðas may be generated when warm air rising up from the surface cools off quickly, as it collides with colder air circulating above. The lower air layer become saturated and drops down into foggy veins, crawling along the surface. And flowing upwards when it bumps into obstructions such as mountains and islands.

Læða is also the word for a female cat.

Dalalæða between Eyjafjallajökull and Klif, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Want to see more of this beautiful island? Read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

This is one of the top-5 blog posts of 2017.

Have you seen a similar natural phenomenon? Share your thoughts at the bottom of this page. Or simply press the ‘like’ button below if you enjoyed reading this story. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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Earth Science Picture of the Day

My dalalæða pictures were published as Earth Science Picture of the Day on 28 August 2017. I am honoured to be featured on this renowned science site, that showcases the beauty of nature and offers explanations about a wide range of fascinating phenomena occurring all around the Earth. The article shows the picture of the fog flowing into town, and pouring like a waterfall over the edges of the cliffs.

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