Unusually Dry Summer in West and Southeast Iceland

Stykkishólmur - Stykkishólmshöfn - Breiðafjörður - Snæfellsnes

Rivers and streams have been shrinking and even drying up entirely following several weeks with little to no rainfall in Iceland. In Stykkishólmur, West Iceland, where measurements stretch back to 1857, last July was the second-driest one on record. In West and Southwest Iceland, rainfall has been less than 10% of the average for July and early August, according to Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson.

“Around July 20 it caught my attention that for example east of Lómagnúpur mountain [in Southeast Iceland] there were already numerous dry streambeds,” Einar wrote yesterday on his Facebook page, where he maintains a weather blog. “It was impossible to find usable drinking water. That was about four weeks ago. Since then, there has been almost no rain in that area.”

While Iceland experienced a rather wet spring, the weather shifted in July across most of the country, with Stykkishólmur reporting just 4.7 mm of rainfall that month and only 0.5 mm since. In Höfn, Southeast Iceland, rainfall measured 11.6 mm, a record low (although notably, the town’s records do not go as far back as those in Stykkishólmur).

Einar observes that the dry spell has affected water levels in many rivers across the country, even glacial rivers fed by meltwater during the summer. Norðurá river at Stekkur and Fossá river in Breiðafjörður measure at just 1% of their average flow rates for this time of year.

According to Einar, the North Atlantic fronts that usually unload their rain over Iceland have instead moved over the British Isles and Northern Europe, where weather has been unseasonably wet. Ireland has been experiencing record rainfall and downpours have caused floods in Norway and elsewhere.

Hottest July of this Century in North and East Iceland

Akureyri Iceland

This July has been the hottest of this century across North and East Iceland as well as the Central Highland, according to figures from the first 20 days of the month. The highest average temperature throughout the past weeks has been in the Highland, at Upptyppingar, and it is highly unusual for the area to average warmer than coastal regions. Weather in West and Southwest Iceland has been cooler and overcast in comparison. There has been less precipitation across the country than seasonal averages, though not all regions have stayed dry.

Highest average temperature 14.8°C

RÚV reported first on the data, which comes from Meteorologist Trausti Jónsson’s blog. According to Trausti, the average temperature in Akureyri, North Iceland for this period was 14.4°C [57.92°F], more than one degree higher than ever recorded at this time of year. Data is available as far back as 1936. The average temperature is 3.6°C [38.48°F] higher than the average for 1991-2000.

The warmest weather has been recorded at Upptyppingar, in the Highland, where the weather station also shows the highest positive deviation from the average temperature: 6.2°C [43.14°F]. The average temperature at Upptyppingar has been 14.8°C [58.64], the highest in the country for this time period. That is an unusual development, as the Highland is not normally warmer than Iceland’s coastal regions.

Cloudy but dry in Reykjavík

There has been little precipitation this month compared to seasonal averages. In Reykjavík it measured 7.9mm, just one fifth of the average precipitation and has only been lower eight times in the past 125 years. The capital has however been cloudier than usual, with just 64.3 hours of sunshine recorded over the first 20 days of July, around 50 hours less than usual.

Akureyri has received just 2.4mm of precipitation, near the record low of 1.3mm recorded in 1940. Parts of West and Southwest Iceland have received more rain than the above-named locations, however.