65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 27

65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 27
The oldest likes school once she gets there but it takes her a long time to get ready in the mornings. She is old enough to foresee that if the teacher is ill — teachers sometimes get colds too — the class she prepared to shine in will be cancelled, or perhaps only half the children will show up and the examination for which she has studied so conscientiously will be postponed. Is it worth going for? On the other hand, if the class is half full, the teacher might entertain them with something unusually interesting, or might not. It is nasty weather and a long walk, but she doesn’t want to be the one coward who was intimidated by the weather. So in addition to her usual morning grogginess, she is weighing the pros and cons, wishing someone would say definitely whether there is to be school. The mother finally sends them off: they are supposed to be hardy Icelanders, and think of the Vikings who went abroad in all weathers! Then she begins to worry, for the weather wor- sens. She has almost been blown under a car on her food-shopping tour. Will the children be able to make it home? Should she send for them in a cab? How much will it cost? Should she fetch them herself so they can blow together or call the principal and ask if any arrangements can be made, knowing the school has no bus? And should she bother the principal, who is a busy man? It’s not his business to get the children to and from school, only to regulate conditions while they are there. Finally the children come, one by one, drenched and breathless and sniffing, sometimes sore or dirty from having fallen. And unless the weather changes, there is the same problem to be faced tomorrow. This is what really happens. What could happen is that when our sleepy-eyed Inga faces the question of school or no school, she clicks on the radio at seven-thirty for the special bad-weather-broadcast. The weather station has earlier announced general weather conditions hut the schoolboard has long since conferred privately with weather experts and now only has to refer to its transla- tion manual which is more helpful than the rou- tine report poor Inga heard. The manual is specific. It describes a near gale (allhvasst) at 7 vindstig, at which speed it is dangerous to work on rooftops. A gale (hvass) is 8 vindstig and twigs of trees may be broken and pedestrian progress impeded. A strong gale (stormur) registers 9 on the Beaufort interna- tional windscale, at which time slates can be detached from roofs and slight structural damage occur. Storm (rok) measures 10 vindstig, and though seldom found inland, can cause consider- able structural damage and uproot trees. The same hazards increase with violent storm (ofsa- viori) which registers 11 vindstig, and hurricane (farviSri) registering 12 vindstig. More people than Inga are ignorant of the fact that the weather moves from west to east, and that it is easier to predict weather changes in Europe where recording bases can be set up on land. Furthermore, of the 100 weather stations scattered over Iceland, only some 50 send daily reports to the weather station. Reykjavik’s weather station is at Reykjavik airport and reports the weather every three hours. This is a mean report however, and depending on whether one lives in a thickly or sparsely built section, on a hill or in a valley, the wind force may vary from that re- ported from the airfield. Although long range predictions are impossible to make, owing to the lack of stations to the west of Iceland, forecasts of twelve to forty-eight hours ahead are made by the weather bureau. That the newspapers do not make use of this fact and prefer to print yesterday’s weather and not to- day’s, is due to their own laziness, and is not expected to help people prepare for the current day’s weather. This would certainly reassure Inga if she could know. She has always felt unutterably stupid about interpreting the daily weather map in the newspapers. Luckily, however, the schoolboard has digested this information, especially the pertinent facts that hvassvifiri can blow small children down the street, under traffic, or into the ditches that abound on unfinished streets; that rok and any speed above is unsafe for older children and adults, and that rain or snow or dust carried at those speeds impairs the vision of pedestrians and motorists alike, making an extremely danger- ous situation. So on this obviously bad weather day, action is begun. A call to the weather station clinches the windspeed and the forecast for the school day, and now the principals merely check the age levels in their schools. Each principal phones in his statement to the radio station in time for the seven-thirty report, which could run about as follows: “Here is a special announcement prepared by Continued on page 33. 65 25



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