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. 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…
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 view already.
Midnight fog & moon over Heimaey.
But the magnificent display of fog that was about to ensue completely stole the show.
Distant sea fog rolling in.
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.
Gushing into Heimaey harbour.
Flowing in and steaming off the Eldfell.
Heimaklettur 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 by the fog as well.
Spectacular waterfalls of fog pouring over the cliffs.
I wish I’d taken a video of it too! But I just didn’t think of it in that moment, excitedly bumbling around from one ridge to another, focussed on taking photo’s…
Klif being swallowed by a giant waterfall of fog.
Flowing over the ridge into Herjólfsdal.
Fog waterfall & flower.
I had to find my way off the mountain through the thick of it… But I didn’t mind. I was so exhilerated to have witnessed such a magical sight! Being at the right place at the right moment when it accidently happened.
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. Læða is also the word for a female cat.
I have got to see another one! & get a video next time. Now there’s yet another thing I need to hunt… 😉
Misty harbour lights at the bottom of the track.
You can read how to get to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.
(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
This is one of the top-5 blog posts of 2017.
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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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