No Red Weather Warnings in Iceland in 2023

weather warning map

No red weather alerts were issued in Iceland last year. The year’s weather was relatively calm, at least when considering the number of weather warnings issued. The total number of warnings issued by the Icelandic Met Office was 311, which is slightly below average. Of those warnings, 280 were yellow weather warnings and 31 were orange weather warnings.

Weather fluctuates between years

The numbers are significantly lower than in 2022, when 456 weather warnings were issued: 372 yellow, 74 orange, and ten red. When data from the past six years is compared, it is clear that the number of weather warnings fluctuates considerably between years. In 2020, just 235 weather warnings were issued, while in 2020, the total number of weather warnings was 531.

Last year’s weather warnings were fairly evenly distributed across the country’s regions, with around 25-35 warnings issued for each region. The capital area and East Iceland received just 15 and 18 weather warnings respectively, however.

Most warnings due to wind

Most of the weather warnings issued in 2023 were due to strong winds, although warnings were also issued due to rain, snow, and rapid thawing (known to cause flooding). Yellow weather warnings indicate a high probability of poor weather with limited societal impact, while red weather warnings indicate that the weather conditions will have a significant impact on society.

Flooding, Wind Damage, and Stranded Travellers in Last Night’s Storm

extreme weather storm Sundlaugavegur

Gale-force winds and flooding kept firefighters, search and rescue teams, and other response crews busy across the Reykjavík capital area and Southwest Iceland last night. The storm swept a sports dome out to sea, ripped a bus shelter from its foundation, and caused flooding and transport trouble throughout the region. Weather has calmed slightly, though yellow and orange weather alerts remain in effect until this afternoon.

Capital area firefighters responded to 25 calls due to weather and flooding last night, in addition to one fire and 30 medical transports, RÚV reports. One of the projects was securing a bus shelter that had ripped from its foundation in the Gravarvogur neighbourhood so that it would not be carried away by wind. The same was not possible for Hamarshöllin sports dome in Hveragerði, South Iceland, which was blown out to sea in the storm. Rain, snow, and meltwater caused flooding across the region, and firefighting crews spent much of the night pumping water from homes.

Rescue crews transported around 100 people that had gotten stuck in their cars on Þrengslavegur road (Route 39) to an emergency response centre in Þorlákshöfn, Southwest Iceland. Their cars were left behind, to be transported once weather conditions improved. The response centre was set up by the Red Cross, which also assisted residents of Patreksfjörður, in the Westfjords, last night, who had to be evacuated from their homes due to the risk of avalanches. Twenty-eight were required to leave their homes in the town: 18 found accommodation with friends and family, while the remaining 10 were put up in a hotel.

Yellow and Orange Weather Alert Across Iceland

weather warning Jan 25 2022

Westerly and southwesterly gale force winds will blow across Iceland today, reaching speeds of 28 metres per second in some regions. The Icelandic Met Office has issued yellow and orange weather alerts across the country. The storm front will move eastward throughout the day and weather is expected to improve this evening in West Iceland and early tomorrow morning in the east of the country.

The winds will carry both rain and snow, as temperatures are expected to hover just above freezing throughout the country. Snowfall is expected across most of the country today, including the west, northwest, and eastern regions. Wind speeds will range between 20-28 metres per second in most regions, though gusts can reach speeds of 38 metres per second in West Iceland today.

Under Mýrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers in South Iceland, gusts are expected to exceed 40 metres per second. Travel is not advised.

Storms and Poor Driving Conditions Across Iceland Today

The Icelandic Met Office has issued orange and yellow weather alerts across North and West Iceland today as well as the Reykjavík capital area and the Highland. Conditions will be worst in the Westfjords and Northwest Iceland, and both locals and tourists are discouraged from travel in those regions today. Those planning to travel between in West Iceland today should be aware that Route 1 may be closed over Holtavörðuheiði.

Travel discouraged in Westfjords and Northwest

North-westerly and northerly winds will likely reach speeds of 28 metres per second in the Westfjords and Northwest Iceland, bringing blowing snow and sleet affecting visibility. People are encouraged to avoid travel and fasten outdoor furniture and belongings.

Wind speeds in Northeast, North, and West Iceland, as well as the uninhabited Highland, are expected to reach 23 metres per second today. Driving conditions will be poor and locals are encouraged to secure and outdoor furniture or items. Blowing snow is also in the forecast for these regions.

Wind speeds will be slightly less in the Reykjavík capital area, though they may still reach a considerable 18 metres per second with snow showers expected. The Met Office warns that driving conditions may deteriorate quickly.

The stormy conditions are expected to subside by midnight tonight. Locals and travellers are encouraged to monitor weather and road conditions.

Most Flights Cancelled Today

Keflavík Airport

All domestic flights and most international ones have been delayed or cancelled today due to extreme weather across the country. Yellow and orange weather alerts are active across West and North Iceland as well as the Westfjords. Conditions are expected to improve by this evening in Southwest Iceland and tomorrow morning in the rest of the affected regions.

The vast majority of arrivals and departures at Keflavík Airport have been cancelled for the day. Domestic airline Air Iceland Connect has cancelled or delayed all morning flights and will re-evaluate flying conditions at 1.30pm this afternoon.

Gale or severe gale conditions are widespread across the West and North Iceland, with winds ranging from 18-25 metres per second in most of the affected areas. The winds will also bring snow showers to most of the country.

Route One Closed at Jökulsárlón

Route 1 winter closure

A section of the Ring Road is closed in Southeast Iceland due to weather conditions. The section, which runs through Breiðamerkursandur between Jökulsá and Kvíá rivers, was closed just after 3.00pm today due to strong winds. There is a yellow weather alert currently active in the region.

While conditions in Southeast Iceland should improve briefly on Tuesday morning, more storm conditions are expected across the southern half of the country on Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday. A yellow weather warning has been issued from the south coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula, across the capital area, Southwest Iceland, and the entire south coast of the country from Tuesday afternoon. The storm will slowly move east across Iceland, lasting until late Wednesday morning.

Readers in the UK will have a chance to experience the storm for themselves later this week when it is expected to bring snow, rain, and strong winds to the country.