Wednesday May Be Hottest Day of the Year

Akureyri Iceland

Although the summer is nearing its end in Iceland, unseasonably warm weather may still be on the horizon—at least in some parts of the country. Temperatures on Wednesday could reach 28°C [82.4°F] in northwest Iceland, RÚV reports. Weather in the south of the country will, unfortunately, be much cooler.

“The position of weather systems right now is such that there’s a high-pressure zone over the UK and a low-pressure zone to the southwest of [the east Iceland village of] Hvarf,” remarked Meteorologist Teitur Arason in a lunchtime weather report on Monday. “My good colleague calls this a two-engine system because it directs a very warm airmass to us far south from the sea. But the air is also very humid, so it will be overcast and rainy in the South and West of the country.”

North and East Iceland have enjoyed sunny skies and relatively temperate weather this summer. Thus far, the highest temperature of the year was 27.5°C [81.5°F]  in Akureyri on July 20.

On the same day that temperature records may be broken up north, unusually strong winds are expected to blast Snæfellsnes in West Iceland, particularly the northern side of the peninsula. Vehicles prone to toppling in strong winds, such as buses and RVs are cautioned about traveling in the area on Wednesday.

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.

Ninety Hours of Sunshine So Far This Month


July in Reykjavík has gotten off to a warm start—by Icelandic standards, at least. The average temperature in the capital area thus far this month has been 11.6°C [52.8 °F]. This is 1.3 degrees above the average July temperatures from 1961 to 1990, and .2 degrees over the July average for the last ten years.

These were among the records and historical figures that meteorologist Trausti Jónsson shared on his blog this week.

In addition to warmer-than-average weather, the capital area has also been getting a great deal of sunshine: 90 hours of sunshine, in fact, since the start of the month. This is 35 more hours of sunshine than are usually experienced in the capital in the first ten days of July. This year is, therefore, ranked 11th in years with the most sunshine in the first ten days of July. Capital residents enjoyed the most sunshine—131.4 hours—in the first ten days of 1957, and suffered a depressing low in July 1977, when there were only 5.2 hours of sunshine in ten days.

This has, in fact, been the 8th warmest summer in Reykjavík since 2000. The warmest early July in the 21st century thus far was in 2009, when the average temperature was 13.4°C [56.1°F]. Last year was the coldest summer thus far—a chilly 9.1°C [48.4°F] on average.

While Reykjavík has been having an ostensible heat wave, temperatures up North have been fractionally colder than usual. The average temperature in Akureyri for the first ten days of July was 10.0°C [50°F], which is -0.1 degrees lower than the average temperature during the same time frame from 1961 – 1990, and -1.0 degrees lower than the average temperature in the town in early July over the last ten years.

Temperatures elsewhere around the country have varied, with some incrementally above the average for the last ten years, such as .9 degrees warmer at the weather station atop the Bláfjöll mountains in Southwest Iceland, and others below it, such as 2.1 degrees cooler at the Gagnheið station in East Iceland.

Iceland’s Second Warmest Spring

Locals and tourists across Iceland have been enjoying a particularly warm spring. The Icelandic Met Office reports that in Reykjavík, Akureyri (North Iceland), and Stykkishólmur (West Iceland), this spring was the second warmest since record-keeping began. Egilsstaðir, East Iceland, experienced its ninth-warmest spring on record.

After last year’s unusually cold and rainy spring and summer, locals are no doubt relieved to be receiving quite pleasant weather in Iceland this year. Temperatures this April and May were well above average in many parts of the country, particularly the West and Southwest. In Reykjavík, temperatures were 2.5°C warmer than the average between 1961-1990 and 1.8°C warmer than the average of the past ten years.

In Akureyri, temperatures were 2.8°C warmer than the 1961-1990 average and 1.8°C warmer than the average of the past decade. In Stykkishólmur, temperatures were 2.7°C warmer than the 1961-1990 average for April and May, and 1.6°C warmer than the past decade’s average. In Egilsstaðir, they were 2°C warmer than the 1961-1990 average and 1°C warmer than the average of the past decade.

The past month has also been sunnier than average in Southwest Iceland. Reykjavík area residents enjoyed 236.8 hours of sunlight in May, which is 44.8 hours more than the 1961-1990 average. Most of the country has enjoyed drier weather than usual in May.

Temperatures on the Rise in East Iceland

Temperatures may reach as high as 20°C [68° F] in East Iceland today, RÚV reports, although rain will continue as per usual in the south and west today. Later in the week the national forecast is more uncertain, however, as Hurricane Chris, which is currently just off the eastern coast of the United States, may have an effect on weather patterns here.

South and West Iceland are expected to have rain on Friday as well, while the partially sunny, and comparatively warm weather will continue in the east. Saturday will probably see rain all over the country, but then the forecast becomes a little less clear.

“Forecasts are now suggesting that the remnants of the hurricane will reach the coast of Iceland on Sunday, but it’s uncertain whether [the storm] will land on the south or east coast,” explained a meteorologist who spoke with RÚV about the forecast.

It is not definite that Chris will make it up to Iceland at all, but if it does, it probably will not create much out-of-the-ordinary weather here, simply a lot of rain and strong winds.