Sunny Summer in the Cards, Meteorologist Predicts

This year’s summer in Iceland will be sunny, warm and dry, according to meteorologist Sigurður Þ. Ragnarsson.

Sigurður, who’s colloquially known as Siggi the Storm, told Stöð 2 that the recent cold spell is over, if the latest forecasts are to be believed. “The good times are coming,” he said. “This weekend marked a big shift and we’re entering a period of lovely, mild weather.”

Nice week ahead

The south of Iceland will see 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, with the warmest temperatures along the coastal areas. Clear skies are mostly to be expected, even if some clouds will sneak in along the western coasts. “The headline is this,” Sigurður said. “Summer is coming and we’re seeing it in the forecasts. I’m very optimistic about the look of this week.”

He went on to say that long-term forecasts showed a run-of-the-mill May, bright and cool, but that warmth and cloudless skies can be expected from the beginning of June. “The forecasts are showing a warm summer through June, July and August,” Sigurður added. “And that there will be little precipitation this summer, meaning that we’ll have a sunny summer across the country. I like what I’m seeing ahead. It begins today and tomorrow.”

Large Earthquake Hints at Bárðarbunga Unrest

Vatnajökull Grímsfjall Grímsvötn Bárðarbunga Kverkfjöll Jöklar Jökull Vísindi

An earthquake measuring at 5.4 on the Richter scale took place at Bárðarbunga stratovolcano under Vatnajökull glacier this morning. Seismic activity of this magnitude could mark the beginning of a new era of unrest in Bárðarbunga, the first since the Holuhraun eruption in 2014 to 2015, Mbl.is reports.

Pressure building

The earthquake is the largest in the area since 2015. Hildur María Friðriksdóttir, a specialist at the Iceland Meteorological Office, said that crustal movement by Bárðarbunga increased at the beginning of last year, but did not result in increased seismic activity until February this year. “This could be the beginning of a process that could take years, but there is evidence of pressure building in the area,” she said.

Situation monitored

The Met Office will continue to monitor the situation, but Hildur María said that no response by the authorities is necessary at this time. She added that many large earthquakes were detected before, during and after the Holuhraun eruption.

The earthquake this morning was followed by an aftershock that measured 3 on the Richter scale, but Bárðarbunga has been quiet since then.

Tyre Change Season Heats Up Though Icelandic Winter Lingers

driving in reykjavík

Despite the official end of the studded tyre season on April 15, Icelandic police have not started issuing fines due to ongoing winter conditions, including ice on mountain roads. Tyre shops are, however, seeing increased activity as the season shifts.

Mountain roads remain icy

According to Icelandic regulations, the period for studded tyres ends on April 15 each year.

As noted by RÚV on Monday, however, winter weather has severely affected the country over the past few weeks in many areas, and the police have not yet announced when they will begin issuing fines for studded tyres; there is still ice on mountain roads in many parts of the country, conditions which are taken into account by law enforcement, who commonly afford drivers some leeway for changing tyres into the spring.

Nevertheless, activity at tyre shops has begun picking up. In an interview with Mbl.is yesterday, Þórður Þrastarson, at the Klettur tyre workshop on Hátún in Reykjavik, characterised the spring season as bracing: “It’s an invigorating challenge, and the days are often long,” Þórður remarked.

“Given that there’s been some snow cover in the town, things have slowed down a bit at our workshop, but it will quickly pick up again,” Þórður noted. He estimated that about a quarter of the vehicles in traffic are on all-season tyres. In his opinion, however, it is best to switch tyres between summer and winter. Many drivers still prefer studded tyres, though environmental considerations are increasingly leading to their decline.

Goose Flies from UK to Iceland in 7 Hours

barnacle goose

It’s springtime in Iceland and geese are returning to the island’s shores in droves. GPS tracking has given researchers fascinating insight into their journeys, which are surprisingly quick though not always direct, RÚV reports. One barnacle goose had the best recorded time, crossing some 900 km [560 mi] from the UK to Iceland in just seven hours.

“It was in a strong northerly wind. It flew well over 100 km [62 mi] per hour,” says Arnór Þórir Sigfússon, a wildlife ecologist at Verkís, about the aforementioned record-holder. Arnór is monitoring some 20 geese equipped with a GPS tracker. Eight of them have already arrived in Iceland, while one is believed to be outside the service area or possibly dead.

The GPS trackers are lightweight and operate with the help of solar-powered batteries. The goose journeys they track are not always direct, with a few geese appearing to turn southward before reaching Iceland, then correcting course. One goose flew westward around Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier, to reach its nesting ground in North Iceland, rather than flying directly across the icy peaks.

In 2019, a greylag goose and namesake of Arnór’s completed the journey from Scotland to Iceland in 20 hours, a distance of 1,115 km [693 mi].

When Do Puffins Arrive in Iceland?

Puffin Iceland

The Atlantic puffin (in Icelandic, lundi), is something of a national symbol, with many tourists and Icelanders alike flocking to bird cliffs to catch a glimpse of these brightly-coloured seabirds.

Of course, if you’re planning your trip to Iceland around seeing these birds, then it helps to know when, exactly, they’re here!

When does the puffin arrive in Iceland?

Puffins spend much of their life at sea and are actually only in Iceland for a relatively short time to breed and nest. They tend to arrive in Iceland beginning in April (usually later in the month, just before May) and generally begin to leave in August. The puffins are usually gone by September. The height of breeding- and nesting-season is from June through August.

In 2024, some of the first puffins of the year were recorded on April 11, when small groups of the black and white seabird arrived on the island of Grímsey and in Borgarfjörður eystri, in East Iceland.

Although the puffin typically begins arriving in April, most puffin tours only begin in May, to guarantee better conditions for sighting the seabird.

More about the Atlantic puffin

Unlike many other cliff-dwelling seabirds, Atlantic puffins will actually dig little holes to build their nests in. Puffins monogamously mate for life, and generally just produce one egg each breeding season. Male puffins tend to spend more time at home with the chick and organising the nest, while female puffins tend to be more involved with feeding the young. Raising their young takes around 40 days.

Until recently, it was actually unknown where, exactly, Atlantic puffins spent the rest of the year. But with modern tracking technologies, these little birds have been found to range as far south as the Mediterranean during the winter season. When puffins leave the nest, they will head off on their own without their parents, finding their own feeding and winter grounds. Over their lives, they will remember and repeat their lonely journey. They don’t always head to warmer climates in the winter, however. Icelandic puffins have been found to winter in Newfoundland and in the open sea south of Greenland.

Puffins are relatively small seabirds, averaging about 47 to 63cm [18 to 25in] in wingspan and weighing generally between 300 and 500g [10 to 17oz].

There are an estimated 8 million adult Atlantic puffins, with a majority of the world’s puffing population, around 60%, nesting in Iceland. Besides Iceland, puffins can also be found nesting in Ireland, the UK, Norway, Russia, the Faroe islands, and Greenland.

The Westman islands, an archipelago off the South Coast of Iceland, has by far the largest puffin colony in Iceland, with around 800,000 breeding pairs. Second place goes to Breiðafjörður, with around 400,000 breeding pairs. A less populated, but stunningly beautiful, bird cliff is Látrabjarg, the western-most point of Iceland.

Read more about bird watching in Iceland.

Rainy Across Most of Iceland Today

rain iceland traffic

Today, April 11, will be rainy across much of the nation.

By evening, a low-pressure system will move over the southern parts of the country and then towards the east. The Met Office expects this will decrease winds and precipitation for most of the nation.

Rain and sleet for much of Iceland

Much of South Iceland, including the capital region and the South Coast, will be rainy today. The precipitation will change to sleet and snow in more northerly parts of the country, and higher elevation areas. Much of East and Northeast Iceland can expect snow today.

West Iceland, including the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the Westfjords, will be comparatively dry.

Temperatures mild around capital, colder in the North

Temperatures will range from around freezing to 8° C [46° F] throughout Iceland today. The mildest temperatures will be felt along the South Coast. The capital region is expected to be slightly cooler, around 5° C [41° F].

Temperatures will drop up north and in higher elevation areas, such as the highland. East and Northeast Iceland, in addition to the Westfjords, can all expect temperatures hovering around freezing today.

Wind sharper in the South

East and northeast Iceland will see moderate wind gusts, with sharper winds in the south. The Met Office predicts that winds will sharpen in the late morning, and it advises drivers in South Iceland to exercise caution.

As the day wears on, winds in Northwest Iceland are expected to pick up.

Useful resources for travellers

As always, travellers are advised to stay up to date with the latest weather conditions in Iceland.

Get the latest updates on weather at the Icelandic Met Office.

Live updates on road conditions in Iceland.

General safety tips at Safetravel.

Travellers in Iceland may also find our guides on driving in Iceland during the summer and winter helpful.

 

Fourth Sunniest Reykjavík Winter in Recorded History

Reykjavík at dawn

This winter was the fourth sunniest one in the history of Reykjavík since recording began. Only 1947, 1966 and last winter were sunnier, Vísir reports.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office recorded 313.5 sunny hours this winter, which is 106.5 hours above average. March was particularly sunny in Reykjavík, with 68.2 hours of sun more than the average of 1991 to 2020. Akureyri was also sunnier than usual, with 134 hours of sun, 15.4 hours above the average.

Nicer March than usual

The Meteorological Office also reported that March 2024 was sunnier, drier and warmer than usual. In the northwest, however, the weather was colder with more precipitation. Heavy snow in the north and east at the end of March, in addition to windy conditions, caused traffic issues and a number of avalanches to boot.

The average temperature in Reykjavík was 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is half a degree warmer than the average over the last few decades. In Akureyri, the average temperature was negative 0.3 degrees Celsius, lower than average. The warmest conditions were to be found in the south and southwest of Iceland, with the north and northwest colder.

Hottest day in Húsafell

The highest temperature measured was 12.4 degrees Celsius in Húsafell, inland from Borgarfjörður in the west of Iceland. The lowest temperature was negative 22.3 degrees Celsius in Mývatn and by Setur to the south of Hofsjökull glacier.

Ten Man-Made Avalanches Last Week

At least ten avalanches from March 28 to April 3 were caused by human activity, according to the Iceland Meteorological Office. In every case they were caused by skiers or snowmobile riders. No serious injuries occurred, but in four of the cases people were caught or buried in the avalanche, RÚV reports.

Necessary equipment for mountaineers

Erla Guðný Helgadóttir, an avalanche specialist with the Meteorological Office, said that people will understandably want to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is favourable. However, she warned that it’s important to look at avalanche forecasts before heading to the mountains. In such excursions, an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel should be brought along.

She added that mountaineers should attend avalanche seminars as anyone accompanying a person buried in snow should be the first responder on site.

Avalanches should be reported

Erla urged people to report any avalanche they spot, as such reports are important for research purposes. This applies for avalanches due to natural causes and artificial causes. Even if people cause the avalanche themselves, they should not hesitate to report. Such reports can be emailed to [email protected] or registered on the Iceland Meteorological Office website.

Journalists to Have Same Access as First Responders to Grindavík

grindavík iceland

The Icelandic Journalists’ Association (Blaðamannafélag Íslands) reached an agreement with the government regarding journalists’ access to sites during emergencies today, April 4. This agreement, presented during a court proceeding, acknowledges journalists’ crucial role in monitoring and providing information during emergencies. It states that restrictions on journalists’ freedom of expression must be justified by significant reasons. It also ensures that journalists’ access to hazardous areas should generally be no less than that of other responders, taking into account their specific rights and media roles.

A significant victory for freedom of expression

Sigríður Dögg Auðunsdóttir, the association’s chairperson, views the agreement as a significant victory for the profession and freedom of expression. In a statement on the Icelandic Journalists’ Association website, she emphasizes the importance of journalists having equal access to sites as other responders, such as rescue teams and police, enabling them to fulfill their duties unhindered.

Flóki Ásgeirsson, a lawyer for the association, highlights that the agreement aligns with constitutional and international human rights standards regarding journalists’ freedom of expression. He notes that courts have recognized the unique position of journalists, necessitating greater scrutiny before limiting their freedom of expression.

Restrictions to not exceed those imposed on other responders

The association previously reached a similar agreement with the police in the Reykjanes region, ensuring journalists’ access to hazardous areas while considering safety measures. Sigríður Dögg expresses satisfaction with this agreement, stating that journalists’ access has improved, allowing them to carry out their duties effectively.

The agreement specifies that authorities may impose restrictions on journalists during emergencies but should generally not exceed those imposed on other responders for security reasons and should consider journalists’ specific rights and media roles. The agreement reached with the Reykjanes police reflects these principles as well.

A translated text of the agreement can be found below:

After a meeting between representatives of the Icelandic Journalists’ Association and the Ministry of Justice, it is clear that there is agreement among the parties involved regarding the significant role journalists play in monitoring and providing information, and that substantial reasons are necessary to restrict their freedom of expression. Based on emergency laws, authorities have specific powers to respond swiftly and decisively when emergencies arise, including limiting access to certain areas. Any limitations imposed on journalists in emergency situations should generally not exceed those placed on other responders for security reasons and should also take into account journalists’ specific rights and the role of the media. On March 8th, the Icelandic Journalists’ Association and the police commissioner in the Reykjanes region reached an agreement to improve media access to disaster areas, considering these principles. In light of the above, all parties agree that this matter should be settled without costs.

Civil Protection Downgrades Reykjanes Eruption

reykjanes eruption march 2024

Yesterday, April 3, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in consultation with the Chief of Police of the Reykjanes peninsula, made the decision to downgrade the emergency preparedness level. The volcanic eruption between Hagafell and Stóra Skógfell is now considered to be an “alert phase,” where it was previously an “emergency phase.”

Emergency phase

The emergency phase was activated when the eruption commenced on March 16th. Despite the ongoing eruption, the situation has remained stable for some time. Civil Protection and the Icelandic Met Office state that no significant ground movements have been detected in the region recently.

While challenges like wildfires near the lava flow and gas pollution persist, the pollution hasn’t reached settlements in the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Misleading headlines

It should be noted that the Civil Protection emergency preparedness levels indicate overall levels of caution taken by authorities and first responders to the localised eruption, and not nation-wide conditions. Some reporting in the foreign media have implied that the “state of emergency” applied to the entire nation.

According to Civil Protection, an alert phase (hættustig) is in place if “a hazard assessment indicates increased threat, immediate measures must be taken to ensure the safety and security of those who are exposed/ in the area. This is done by increasing preparedness of the emergency- and security services in the area and by taking preventive measures, such as restrictions, closures, evacuations and relocation of inhabitants. This level is also characterized by public information, advise and warning messages.”

More information can be found, in English, here.

Further monitoring

Despite the downgraded preparedness level, Civil Protection state that continuous monitoring of wildfires during the eruption will be conducted, and necessary actions will be implemented.

More information can be found at the Icelandic Met Office. Air quality can be monitored live here: www.loftgaedi.is.