Record Precipitation in Reykjavík Last Month

extreme weather storm Sundlaugavegur

March was unusually wet and snowy across South, Southeast, and West Iceland this year, with record amounts of precipitation in several locations. Precipitation in Reykjavík last month measured three times the monthly average between 1991 and 2020, and was more than has ever been recorded for the month of March. The data is from the Icelandic Met Office’s monthly weather review.

Precipitation in Reykjavík last month measured 209.5 mm, making it the wettest/snowiest March since weather monitoring began. March 1923 is in second place, with 183.2 mm. March 2022 had heavy precipitation even compared to other months of the year. Monthly precipitation has only been measured higher four times in Reykjavík: in November 1993, February 1921, January 1907, and November 1958. January 1842 and December 1843 were also exceptionally rainy, but the measurements for those months are unconfirmed.

Considering the amount of rain and snow, it’s not surprising that March was not particularly sunny in the nation’s capital. Reykjavík only had 68.5 hours of sunshine last month, which is 41.8 hours below the March average between 1991 and 2020. Akureyri, North Iceland, on the other hand, had 112.1 sunshine hours in March, which is 34.3 hours more than the average for that month between the same time frame. Akureyri has not experienced a March with as much sunshine since 1996.

Reykjavík had 14 snowy days last month, five more than average; while Akureyri experienced 11, which is five fewer than average between the years 1991 and 2020.

Snowiest February in Reykjavík Since 2000

snow plow shoveling winter weather

The price tag for snow removal in the City of Reykjavík this February is expected to amount to ISK 300 million [$2.3 million; €2.1 million], roughly double the average cost for that month, Vísir reports. Snow plough operators say that consistent snowfall and thick ice on the roads have made the last month a challenge. This was the snowiest February in Reykjavík since the year 2000, according to the Icelandic Met Office.

A series of storms hit Iceland last month, most bringing heavy precipitation. Snow and ice have accumulated in the streets of Reykjavík and snow plough operators have hardly been able to finish clearing the results of one snowfall before the next filled the streets yet again. Cumulative snowfall in Reykjavík last month amounted to 113.8 mm, which is 26% above the average for that month between 1991-2020.

“It’s been a terrible time,” Hjalti Jóhannes Guðmundsson, office manager of land maintenance at the City of Reykjavík stated. “It’s snowed, it’s rained, it’s frozen over, and it’s snowed again. So we never really get to finish our project, to clear properly before the next snowfall begins. So we’ve had to take ploughs and equipment and manpower from the lowest priority in residential streets and put them back in other projects to just start all over again.” Many residential streets in the city have thus had to wait for ploughing as main thoroughfares are prioritised.

Plough operator Þorkell Hjaltason says the ice that has formed on the streets has made snow removal particularly difficult. “This is totally new, at least now. It was more like this around 1980, when I was also ploughing. Then it was often like this. But we haven’t seen this in many years.” He says the conditions have exhausted staff in recent days.

A banner on the City of Reykjavík website states that snow removal is “at full blast,” and urges residents who have comments on snow removal to use the webchat service, online submission form, or send an email, as the phone lines are busy. The banner notes that garbage collection is also behind schedule and asks residents to clear snow and spread salt or gravel around their garbage cans.

Weather Alerts Issued Across the Country Today

Waves crashing over Reykjavík lighthouse

The Icelandic Met Office has issued yellow and orange weather alerts across the country today, February 25. An orange weather alert will be in effect for the capital region from 11 AM to 5 PM today.

A season of storms

Two powerful lows have swept across Iceland in relatively quick succession: one in late January and another last Monday. In keeping with this theme, the Icelandic Met Office has issued yellow and orange weather alerts for all of Iceland today.

An orange weather alert will be in effect for the capital region from 11 AM to 5 PM. Reykjavík is expected to be bombarded with heavy wind and precipitation.

As noted on the Met Office’s website: “SE 18-25 m/s with sleet and later rain. Damages due to flying debris are likely and construction workers are encouraged to secure construction sites. Important to clear grates and remove snow from building entrances to prevent flood damage or injury.”

An orange weather alert will also be in effect for Faxaflói Bay, the Westfjords, and the Central Highlands. Yellow weather alerts will apply to the rest of the country.

Route One closed between Reykjavík and South Iceland

In the lead up to the storm, the Icelandic Road Administration has announced that it has closed Route One from Reykjavík to South Iceland (the Hellisheiði segment). Mosfellsheiði toward Þingvallavatn has also be closed. The Road Administration advises that this is no weather for travelling.

For more information on road conditions, visit safetravel.is.

Record Year for Rain in Reykjavík

Rain in Reykjavík

Reykjavík had 261 days of precipitation in 2018, a record for the city. RÚV reports the capital region also received only 1,163 hours of sunshine in 2018, about 100 fewer than average and the fewest recorded since 1992. The data comes from meteorologist Trausti Jónsson.

Precipitation measured 1059.2mm (41.7in) in Reykjavík in 2018, around 30% more than the average annual amount. More precipitation in a single year has only been recorded seven times in the city, most recently in 2007. Days when precipitation exceeded 1.0mm (0.04in) numbered 183 last year. Only the years 1953 and 1921 had more such days. Akureyri, North Iceland, also neared its record for precipitation last year, with 40% more than average.

High average temperatures across Iceland

The year was relatively warm around the country. According to Trausti, the average temperature in Reykjavík in 2018 was 5.1°C (41.18°F) last year, making 2018 one of the 30 warmest years recorded. In Akureyri, last year’s average temperature was 4.6°C (40.28°F), the 14th highest recorded. In Dalatangi, East Iceland, the average temperature was 5.2°C (41.36°F), the fourth warmest ever recorded in the area.