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 bright and sunny day, and I went for a midnight scramble up the cliffs around Herjólfsdalur, to watch the sun set and the moon rise in brightly coloured skies.

Herjólfsdalur natural amphitheatre

Midnight sunset on Herjólfsdalur. The natural amphitheatre of Heimaey is a spectacular sight at any time, yet even more enchanting when it’s surrounded by the colours of sunset.

Midnight sunset

Midnight moonrise over Helgafell.

Midnight moonrise

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

Midnight fog & moon over Heimaey.

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

Distant sea fog

Distant sea fog rolling in.

Sea fog sunset

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.

Fog flowing into the harbour

Gushing into Heimaey harbour.

Fog creeping in

Flowing in and steaming off the Eldfell.

Heimaklettur engulfed by fog

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.

Fog waterfalls

Spectacular waterfalls of fog pouring over the cliffs.

Disappearing kletturs

Disappearing kletturs.

Klif disappearing into the fog

Klif being swallowed by a giant waterfall of fog.

Fog flowing into Herjólfsdal

Flowing over the ridge into Herjólfsdal.

Fog waterfall & flower

Fog waterfall & flower.

Misty track

I had to find my way off the mountain through the thick of it… But I didn’t mind. I was so excited to have witnessed such a magical sight! Being at the right place at the right moment when it accidently happened.

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 surrounding hillsides, rocks and mountains.

It can occur on a calm clear night after a blissfully warm & sunny day.

I wonder if there is any equivalent name in English for this kind of fog spectacle…?

Have you seen a similar natural phenomenon? Share your stories or photo’s in the comments, or on the Facebook link to this article 🙂

Harbour lights

Harbour lights at the bottom of the track.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

Follow the Wilderness Coffee & Natural High page on Facebook for more stories and regular updates.

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 of 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.


More stories & inspiration

Northern lights – Energy from out of space pouring in

Solar eclipse – A mind-blowing experience

Haleakala – The House of the Rising Sun

Vestmannaeyjar – A force of nature that can’t be denied

Eldfell erupting a rainbow

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