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January-February 2017

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The Vedur of Iceland

Iceland is a bucket list country—a desired destination for many who wish to experience an old, yet sophisticated, Nordic culture, wonderful food, surprisingly mild though occasionally wild weather, and varied and excruciatingly beautiful landscapes. For this camera-toting meteorologist, the lure could no longer be resisted. So for three weeks around the autumn equinox we explored Iceland, beginning with a week in quirky and vibrantly modern Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital. Situated in the southwestern part of the island, the city and its suburbs are home to two-thirds of Iceland's 330,000 residents. With a landmass of 40,000 square miles (a bit smaller than Kentucky), Iceland has the lowest population density in Europe—since sheep don't count. Sheep can be spotted everywhere, even perilously high up on jagged cliffs. The island's surprisingly mild climate and fertile volcanic soils result in vast, green lowland pastures. These provide excellent grazing for almost a half million hooved, walking sweaters that often wander onto the main highways to greet drivers. Yes, the sheep have right of way. This was useful information, as we prepared to take off on a two-week road trip.

WALTER LYONS, Certified Consulting Meteorologist, is a past president of the American Meteorological Society. His career path has included establishing lightning detection networks and investigating sprites, elves, halos, and gigantic jets high above thunderstorms. He is president of the educational website,       

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