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.

Considerable Seismic Activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula

litli-hrútur reykjanes

Starting around midnight today, the Reykjanes Peninsula has experienced considerable seismic activity. The strongest earthquake was measured at a magnitude of 3.9. At 11 PM yesterday, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake was also detected near Bárðarbunga, a known seismic hotspot in South Iceland.

A new volcanic era

The Reykjanes Peninsula experienced several tremors tonight, although most were relatively minor. The strongest earthquake was measured at a magnitude of 3.9 and originated just north of the town of Grindavík. Several earthquakes were measured between magnitudes two and three.

Einar Hjörleifsson, a Natural Hazards Specialist on duty at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told RÚV this morning that seismic activity on the peninsula had begun to increase just after midnight. He saw no signs of volcanic unrest, although the MET Office would continue to monitor the situation.

In an interview with Vísir in early September, Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson, a specialist with the Icelandic MET Office, stated that land uplift had resumed on the Reykjanes Peninsula and that a volcanic eruption might occur in the coming months. Benedikt noted that this was the first time that uplift had been detected so soon after an eruption’s end; this year’s eruption near Litli Hrútur began on July 10 and lasted for just over a month.

With the Reykjanes peninsula having entered a new volcanic era, the region might witness frequent eruptions in the foreseeable future.

Seismic activity near Bárðarbunga

An earthquake measuring 4.9 in magnitude was also detected near Bárðarbunga, an active stratovolcano located under the Vatnajökull glacier in South Iceland, around 11 PM last night. Einar Hjörleifsson told RÚV this morning that earthquakes of this magnitude were common in this area. An earthquake of magnitude 2.2 was measured in a similar location about an hour later.

Warm and Sunny in the Capital Area

Locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine in Reykjavík's Austurvöllur square.

It’s been a warm and sunny weekend, and today will continue the trend in the capital area, with a high of 16°C (61°F).

Today will be cloudier and colder in the East, with a high of 9°C (48°F) in Egilsstaðir. The North is also cloudier and cooler, with highs of 12°C (54°F) in Akureyri.

This week’s forecast

Here is the most recent information from the Met Office on what to expect in the coming days:

On Wednesday: Southwesterly or variable winds at 3-8 m/s, cloudy with occasional light rain, but dry in the northeast. Temperatures between 10-18°C (50-64°F).

On Thursday: Southeast direction winds at 3-10 m/s, increasing to 10-15 m/s in the evening, especially in the south. Widespread rain with intermittent showers, but generally dry in the northeast.

On Friday: Easterly winds at 8-15 m/s, but lighter in the north. Rain, with very little precipitation in the North. Temperatures between 11-16°C (52-61°F).

On Saturday: Predominantly easterly winds and cloudy with intermittent showers.  Widespread precipitation in many areas. Temperatures between 8-18°C (46-64°F).

On Sunday: Expecting easterly winds. Mostly cloudy with occasional light rain in most places, but more precipitation towards the southeast. Temperature changes will be minimal.

 

 

 

Yellow Weather Warning for Much of Nation

iceland weather warning

Yellow weather warnings are in effect for all of Iceland except the East Fjords today and tomorrow, May 23-24.

Residents and visitors are advised to avoid unnecessary travel as a southwest gale will bring sharp winds and rain across the island in the coming days.

Winds up to 23 m/s [51 mph] are expected with potential showers, hail, and sleet. Temperatures are expected to range between 5° and 15° C [41°- 59°F], with warmer temperatures in the Northeast.

Airport operator Isavia has also issued a travel advisory, stating that flights on May 23 and 24 may be affected. Travellers are encouraged to arrive early and monitor their flight status online.

Dangerous conditions are also forecast for Reynisfjara, a popular black sand beach on Iceland’s South Coast. Travellers are advised to avoid the area due to dangerous waves.

Travellers looking for information about weather warnings, travel advisories, and more may find the following links helpful:

Icelandic Road Administration

Keflavík International Airport

Safe Travel

 

Yellow Weather Warning For Nearly Entire Nation Tomorrow

weather iceland

The Meteorological Office has announced a yellow alert for nearly the entire nation, beginning early tomorrow morning, February 2. Conditions are expected to last into the evening.

The only area exempt from tomorrow’s warnings is the greater Reykjavík area.

Eastern and southeastern winds can be expected to range between 15 to 23 m/s [33 to 51 mph] for much of the nation. Snow and sleet are expected, with temperatures hovering around the freezing point.

Especially harsh winds are expected on the Kjalarnes peninsula and near Eyjafjalljökull, with forecasts of winds up to 35 m/s [78 mph].

Travellers and residents alike are advised against unnecessary travel, especially on mountain roads which may be subject to closures.

The warnings are also noteworthy as they follow a recent announcement by the Meteorological Office that a record number of extreme weather warnings were issued in the past year.

meteorological office iceland
From Veðurstofa Íslands. Annual numbers of yellow, orange, and red weather alerts.

For 2022, a total of 456 weather alerts were issued. While 2020 had more total weather alerts, 2022 represents a new record for extreme weather, with 74 orange warnings and 10 red warnings.

The most warnings were given for South and Southeast Iceland.

 

Weather Warnings Throughout Iceland Today

meteorological office iceland

A state of uncertainty has been declared over the expected storms today, January 30.

Yellow and Orange weather advisories are in effect for much of the nation, and experts expect conditions to worsen significantly after noon today.

Wind speeds are expected between 15 to 30 m/s [34 to 67 mph].

In light of the conditions, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has declared a state of uncertainty. Disruptions to traffic throughout Iceland are also expected. Residents are advised not to travel until tomorrow, especially in areas under the orange warning, including South Iceland, the Westfjords, the Faxaflói Bay, and Southeast Iceland.

In a statement to Vísir, Einar Sveinbjörnsson, a meteorologist for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, said: “From noon and on we expect it to really start howling, with weather conditions quickly worsening after noon. It’s an easterly wind, so we expect it to be especially windy in the south, by Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, but as of now we are still unsure about the precipitation, whether it will rain or snow.”

He further stated: “It’s the kind of storm that passes, and by evening it will largely subside, though not completely because the wind direction will change and the weather will be different tomorrow night.”

Travellers can expect road closures throughout the country. Given conditions, closures are considered likely on Hellisheiði, an important stretch of Route 1 connecting the capital region and South Iceland.

Unusual Snow on Esja Slopes

esja mountain reykjavik

Reykjavík residents and visitors may have noticed a distinctive stripe on Esja’s slopes in the last few days.

As can be seen, a white band of snow stretches up Esja’s slope for about 300m. Above the 300m mark there is much less snow, and in many places no snow at all, leading to the interesting band of colour.

The Meteorological Office of Iceland claims on social media that they’ve received many questions about the phenomenon and have provided a brief public explanation.

Typically, we see the opposite on mountain slopes: white peaks, with bare sides. This is because the higher the elevation, the lower the average temperature. So precipitation falling at the peak is much more likely to be snow, while precipitation falling on the slopes may simply turn to rain.

The pattern visible on Esja for the last few days, according to the Meteorological Office, can be explained by a cycle of freezing and thawing.

Average temperatures have been very low in Iceland his winter, but data shows brief temperature spikes in low-lying areas. These warming periods, followed by continued cold averages, create a cycle of thawing and re-freezing that compacts the snow, making it denser and icier.

However, because the peaks have remained at freezing temperatures, the snow at higher elevations has remained powdery. Powdery snow is of course more susceptible to wind and is more likely to be blown away in storms. The Meteorological Office pointed out the night of January 8-9 as especially windy, with recorded wind speeds of 20 m/s (45 mph). Sure enough, the next day was when the distinctive snow pattern became visible.

Coldest Since 1918: Record Low Recorded in Reykjavík

An icy Reykjavík City Pond.

The coldest temperature since 1918 was recorded in Viðidalur in Reykjavík this morning, when thermometers dropped to -23°C (-9°F).

This represents the coldest recorded temperature since the particularly harsh winter of 1918.

In a statement to Fréttablaðið, Sigurður Þór Guðjónsson, a historian of climate, stated: “It’s not uncommon to see such temperatures in so-called cold-bubbles, like in Viðidalur. But in truth, it did not sustain this low for very long. It’s letting up now, but could just as easily become even colder with no wind.”

Notably, the recorded temperature in Viðidalur does not necessarily reflect conditions in parts of the capital region. Seltjarnes, for example, only dipped to -4°C (25°F).

The weather station in Viðidalur has been in operation for several years, and has measured some of Reykjavík’s coldest temperatures since it came into use.

Sigurður stated that in 1918, we know that temperatures reached -25°C (-13°F) in the city centre, meaning that temperatures in Viðidalur were likely even lower.

Teigarhorn: Average Temperature Has Risen 2°C Since 1880s

Djúpivogur is home to Iceland's latest art museum

The average temperature in Teigarhorn, East Iceland has risen by 2°C since measurements began in the late 19th century, Austurfrétt reports. Five of the area’s warmest summers have been recorded after the turn of the century.

Higher temperatures, fewer snowy days

Last week, Kristín Björg Ólafsdóttir, a climatologist with Iceland’s MET Office, marked the 150th anniversary of continuous temperature measurements at Teigarhorn by giving a talk in Löngubúð in Djúpivogur.

As noted in her lecture, the Danish Meteorological Institute began conducting measurements in Djúpivogur in 1872 but measurements were moved to Teigarhorn in 1881. The average temperature in Teigarhorn has risen by 2°C over that time (meanwhile, Earth’s average global temperature has risen by 0.8°C since 1880).

Kristín also noted that three of the area’s warmest summers had recently passed, i.e. in 2014, 2016, and 2017. The coldest summers, on the other hand, occurred well over 100 years ago, in 1881, 1887, 1888, and 1892. Five of the area’s warmest summers have been recorded after the turn of the century.

As noted by Austurfrétt, Teigarhorn distinguishes itself from other places in Iceland as the site where the country’s hottest temperature was recorded: 30.5°C on June 22, 1939. (The original measurement was 30.3°C, but as the thermometer was later deemed 0.2°C too low, the measurement was revised).

Kristín also pointed out that the annual average number of “all-white” days (when the ground is covered by snow) in Teigarhorn only amounted to 18, i.e. just over two weeks.

Austurfréttir reports that Teigarhorn was awarded Centennial Observing Station status from the World Meteorological Organisation for over 100 years of continuous meteorological measurements. This is the second weather station in Iceland to be awarded the status (the first was in Stykkishólmur).