January 6th, 2009
Today has been a rainy and cold day here in the Memphis area. We have been hovering around the freezing mark and ice has formed on the trees. When you walk outside you can feel the chill attempt to make its way to your bones. Gloomy is a good way to describe it.
It is when we have weather like this we find ourselves reminiscing about our time in Iceland. For two and a half years my family and I lived on the naval air station in Keflavik. I was stationed at NATO Satcom, NSGT F-15. A ground satellite terminal with the big dish and everything.
Summers there were somewhat mild, I think the warmest day we experienced while there was about 59 degrees, quite balmy really when most days hover in the low to mid 40′s. It would be just warm enough to play a round of golf at 0200 just off the base at a sea side course – we used to play at “night” because at that latitude in the summer the sun was high enough in the sky to almost need sun screen (I said almost :)).
The winters in Keflavik were what you might think they would be close to the arctic circle, cold and windy. Yes, it did snow occasionally but that wasn’t the hard part. The wind could frequently reach 60 knots and on a few days I remember gusts over 100. The dampness combined with the cold and wind would form black ice on the road ways and parking lots making for some hazardous conditions to say the least. I remember more than a couple of times opening the car door and getting jerked out of the vehicle on to the ground. Some cars would have their doors bend all the way open to the front corner panel. Lord forbid you had to walk across a parking lot with the winds and ice!
Darkness engulfed the sky during the winter almost 24 hours a day in Iceland. Tearing through the darkness were the northern lights. Aurora borealis, as they are also known, almost seemed close enough to touch. The lights looked almost liquid and would assume various colors as it flowed. An amazing sight for sure.
Overall we loved the experience. Without serving in the Navy I doubt I would have ever had the chance to go there. My family and I talk about those times we shared in the “land of fire and ice” with a great fondness but it also gave us a threshold of what bad weather can be. So I may have considered the weather in Memphis today “gloomy” but in retrospect it wasn’t all that bad.
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