MET Office Forecasts Frost in Most Parts of the Country Tonight

MET Office

The Icelandic MET Office forecasts frost in most of the country from Friday evening to early Saturday. Sunday should see an increase in temperature with concomitant wind.

Cold snap followed by warmer temperatures, more wind

As noted by the Icelandic MET Office, the country is experiencing a shift in weather, with a decrease in pressure causing the wind to subside. Today, a gentle breeze is expected in many areas, although scattered showers are anticipated along the southern and eastern coasts of Iceland.

As evening approaches, the combination of mild winds and partly cloudy skies will usher in a cooler atmosphere. The MET Office forecasts frost across most of Iceland tonight, with a significant chill sweeping over the northwestern parts by morning.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, temperatures are set to rise once more. In West Iceland, the sky will become more overcast with a possibility of a light drizzle. A cold breeze from the southwest is expected across many areas, while the brisk cold will continue in the northwest. Nonetheless, the east is slated for some sunshine, making for a brighter day in that region.

Frost

Individually, snowflakes are fragile, easily broken, dissolving into droplets of water at the mere touch of a finger or a breath of air, while en masse, they’re capable of wreaking havoc on the city streets and causing catastrophe when avalanching down a mountainside.

Contrary to expectation, the correlation between outside temperature and the feeling of cold is less straightforward than people would think. It’s the wind that gets you.

At -19°C [-2.2°F], everything feels crisp. The air, certainly, but also the few rays of light that make it all the way up north at this time of year. The horizon turns an impossibly pastel shade of blue or pink and the grey streaks on the sides of the mountains solidify into a texture that, from a distance, looks soft to the touch.

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather: only a bad attitude to whatever conditions nature offers. Besides, bad weather is good weather under the right conditions. Snuggling beneath a warm blanket wouldn’t be half as nice if the sun were out and temperatures were warm.The weather is an opportunity: a not-so-blank canvas on which one can impose one’s limited imagination.

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These past two months have suggested, however, that the gods have come to show a more determined frigidity towards their human subjects: a lasting and glowering disapproval for our nonchalance towards nature.

Temperatures in Iceland usually vacillate. The weather here is infamously fickle. As if the product of temperamental gods, bestowing, depending on their mood – commendation or condemnation on the mortals dwelling below them.

Frost - vetur - Rauðavatn - klaki - náttúra

It’s hard to describe the feeling when you breathe deep in -19°C weather and – for a split second – your nose freezes shut.

Frost - vetur - Rauðavatn - klaki - náttúra

We care about the cold weather only as it affects our human lives. We lament that the accompanying snow has blocked the road to the airport. That the municipalities have been lacklustre in their clearing of sidewalks.

And we, worst of all, remain continually apprehensive that the utility companies will announce the indefinite closure of the public pools. Otherwise, the constant cold has made for beautiful weather. Less wind, clearer skies; there’s beauty in steadfastness.

Vetur
Miðborgin
Reykjavík

The ground is frozen solid. Icicles form along the gutters of roofs. And birds struggle to eke out their existence. Cars are warmed before passengers clamber inside. Old people slip on the sidewalks. And the unhoused entreat the municipalities to keep the shelters open around the clock. But even so, nature’s long exhalation of cold air provides pleasant relief for a mind dreading the coming warmth. 

Swans Freeze to Ice During Cold Snap

Residents in Hafnarfjörður, a small town just outside the capital area, have rescued multiple swans that have frozen to the icy surface of Hamarkotslækur creek during a recent spate of desperately cold weather in the country, RÚV reports. Local bird lovers in the group Fuglavinur (‘Bird friends’) encourage people to help any birds they see in such a predicament.

Swans freezing to ice is unfortunately not a rare occurrence, and it’s not even the first year the birds have frozen to the creek, which runs through the centre of Hafnarfjörður, says Guðmundur Fylkisson. Guðmundur is a member of the Facebook group Project Henrý, which has had permission to look after the birds of Hamarkotslækur for over a decade.

“Last night, a few neighbors rescued a chick—it was a swan,” Guðmundur told reporters. “Around Christmas, there were two swans [frozen stuck] here. About a year ago, maybe two, there was one that had been stuck for probably close to 24 hours.”

Young swan rescued by Guðmundur Fylkisson recuperates in local prison cell. Photo provided by Guðmundur.

Guðmundur personally freed the latter three birds, one of which, he told Iceland Review, “was put up in a prison cell over New Year’s. He was cold and worse for wear—ravens had started nibbling at him. After a two-night stay in the cell, he was tagged and then released. He’s one of the birds that’s now on the creek.”

Only in Hafnarfjörður

For whatever reason, this doesn’t happen to other birds, says Guðmundur. “It’s just the swans. I’ve never seen this happen to geese or ducks.” Moreover, this pitiable phenomenon seems to be restricted to the creek in Hafnarfjörður; Guðmundur says he’s never heard of it happening anywhere else.

Guðmundur urged residents to help any birds they can, as the swans only injure themselves when they struggle to get free. “When they get loose, they tear their feathers and bleed and when the blood and snow mix, it looks pretty bad,” he remarked. “They’ve injure their breasts doing this.”

‘They don’t bite hard’

Swans have a reputation for being aggressive, so Guðmundur understands that people might be hesitant to try and free them from the ice. But they needn’t be, he says, if certain precautions are taken.

“You have to be careful about their wings and beaks, that they don’t poke you in the eye, but they don’t bite hard. I usually just use a blanket or a towel and spread it over their wings to keep them from thrashing too much. They haven’t hurt me so far.”

Annual Limit on Capital-Area Pollution Already Exceeded

Pollution in the capital area has exceeded the health-protection limit 19 times so far this year, which is more than the permissible number for an entire year, RÚV reports. The law authorises restricting car traffic on days when the limit is exceeded, but such measures have yet to be implemented.

Legal authorisation yet to be translated into regulation

The Environment Agency of Iceland’s air quality metres continually measure the air quality in the city and publishes results every hour. At 6 PM yesterday, the pollution exceeded health protection limits for the nineteenth time in 2023, RÚV reports. According to the regulations of the Ministry of the Environment, the limit can only be exceeded eighteen times a year.

There are no precedents for such high levels of pollution in recent years, according to Svava S. Steinarsdóttir, a health representative at the Reykjavík City Public Health Authority.

“We haven’t seen such high numbers until the last few years,” Svava told RÚV.

The increase goes hand in hand with the increase in car traffic, powered by petrol and diesel. The weather also has its say: calm or little wind combined with the recent day’s frost means that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) hovers over the city for longer periods.

Svava stated that exceeding health-protection limits was serious, given that these limits were set to protect citizens. “We may need to consider encouraging people to use more ecological means of transport.”

Municipalities are authorised by law to restrict traffic on days when pollution is high. However, that authorisation has not yet been translated into regulation.

Svava added that the Environment Agency of Iceland has mentioned radical measures, such as traffic restrictions, in its contingency plans. So far, the agency´s only option is to encourage people to reduce emissions from private cars and studded tires.

Reykjavík Residents Asked to Limit Hot Water Usage During Upcoming Cold Spell

A woman walking two young children through the snow

Iceland’s Meteorological Office has issued yellow or orange weather warnings for every region of the country starting at varying times today. Due to strong northern winds, Icelanders can expect an unusually cold spell to last well into the weekend, and Veitur Utilities ask people to limit their hot water usage for the next few days to help them keep up the supply.

According to the Met Office’s forecaster’s remarks, it “looks like northerly gales or strong gales today with snow in the northern half of Iceland and possibly blizzard in North- and East-Iceland. Becoming colder. Still northerly strong gales tomorrow (Thursday) and winds not calming down considerably until Friday afternoon.” A yellow weather warning will be in effect in every region of the country today except for southeast Iceland, where the Met Office has issued an orange warning. “North and northwest 20-28 m/s(45-63 mph) by eastern Vatnajökull and in Öræfi. Gusts expected to exceed 45 m/s (101mph) with a possible sandstorm and flying pebbles.” People all over Iceland, but especially in the southeast are advised to secure loose objects in their immediate surroundings and reconsider travel plans.

Temperatures are expected to drop as far as -18°C(-0.4°F) in the country’s central highland, while temperatures in and around Reykjavík will likely be closer to 6-7°C below zero (19-21°F). While Iceland has been experiencing low temperatures lately, the recent frost hasn’t been accompanied by strong winds. This time, the low temperatures are accompanied by northerly gales, and the added wind chill will make the next few days the coldest Reykjavík has seen since 2013, Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson explains. According to Einar, during still and frosty days, surface temperatures are low, but you don’t have to go high up to find warmer air. During cold and windy days, that’s not the case and the frosty winds can bite. He recommends keeping a warm hat and a pair of woollen mittens handy and taking extra care when bundling up kindergarten-aged children.

Veitur Utilities PLC has activated their contingency plan for hot water usage in the capital area. Among other things, that includes encouraging people to limit hot water usage as much as possible to ensure enough hot water supply to heat every house in the area.

Forecasting models that use weather forecasts to assess hot water usage foresee that hot water supply in the capital area will reach its tolerance threshold on Friday and into the weekend. About 90% of hot water is used to heat houses, which makes it very important that people know how best to use it. People are encouraged to:

  • keep their windows shut
  • don’t keep doors open for longer than necessary
  • don’t fill up hot tubs
  • set radiators so that they’re hot on top but cold towards the floor
  • make sure radiators aren’t covered by long curtains or furniture
  • lower pressure on snow-melting systems.

In addition to asking the public to limit their hot water usage, Veitur is also raising the water temperature to users from low-temperature geothermal areas in Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær. They’ve finetuned their system so that it is fit to keep up the supply and are working on repairing new pumps bought this autumn with the intent to increase supply.