Difficult Road Conditions Expected in Capital Area on New Year’s Eve

snow shovelling

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has issued a weather alert for South and Southeast Iceland for tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. Difficult conditions may lead to road closures.

“Finish your errands today” Meteorologist recommends

On its Twitter page this morning, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) issued a weather alert for New Year’s Eve (Gamlársdagur in Icelandic, literally Old Year’s Day).

“Expect difficult road conditions and even some road closures on New Year’s Eve in South and Southeast Iceland.” IRCA also notes that road conditions may be spoiled on the night before New Year’s Day (which is the time that many Icelanders make their way back home following celebrations with relatives).

In an interview with Fréttablaðið this morning, meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson warned that travel could prove difficult in many places in the capital region and in South Iceland.

“It looks as if roads will be impassable in the capital region and Suðurnes as early as Saturday morning. Snowfall will be heaviest in South Iceland and in the lowlands of South Iceland. There will also be a lot of snow east of Strandir and east of Vík, which will fall during the middle of the day,” Einar stated, adding that he predicts that parts of the Ring Road will become impassable.

“There is greater uncertainty in the west of the country, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and in Borgarfjörður, for example. It will also snow there, but there will be less snow.”

Einar added the caveat that everything could change as far as the weather forecast was concerned although he recommended people finish their errands today (before New Year’s Eve): “It remains uncertain that people will be able to get between places tomorrow,” Einar observed. “Both between different parts of the country and also within towns and neighbourhoods. This applies primarily to the capital region, Suðurnes, and South Iceland.”

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 Gagnheiði.weather station in East Iceland.

A Rainy Easter in the Forecast

Rain in Reykjavík

The forecast for this Easter weekend in Iceland looks to be a wet one, particularly in South and West Iceland. Nevertheless, while the slopes around the capital area have already closed for the year, the outlook for Iceland’s biggest ski weekend looks much better up north, where RÚV reports that temperatures may reach a balmy 15°C [59°F] on Friday.

Mbl.is has collected the opening hours of ski slopes all over Iceland this holiday weekend. The ski areas in Akureyri, Ísafjörður, Siglufjörður, Dalvík, Seyðistfjörður, and Fjarðabyggð will all be open, generally from 10 am – 4 pm (confirm opening hours via the link above).

There’s not expected to be a respite to the rain down south on Easter Sunday, when the weather is expected to become more overcast up north as well. Meteorologist Sigurður Jónsson noted that there may even be light snow fall here and there over the weekend, although no lasting cold spell is anticipated.

Wind and Wave Warning This Weekend

A low-pressure area off the southwest coast of Iceland will bring gale-force winds in that region and will likely trigger waves of up to 13 m [43 ft], Vísir reports.

These waves will not merely be out at sea but will also be in evidence along the southern and western coastlines, particularly in the later part of the day and evening on Friday. As much of Route 1 and other main roadways travel along the coast in these regions, travellers are advised to be cautious.

Alerts posted on safetravel.is similarly advise that “very strong and hazardous” waves at Reynisfjara beach on the South Coast are expected for the whole weekend. Visitors should “[u]se extra caution, stay WELL back from the water, and [not] leave children unattended.” No one should attempt to enter the cave at Reynisfjara during this time, either.

Safetravel.is also notes that Friday evening will being high winds of up to 40m/s [144 km/h;  90 mph] “in the north and east from Hvammstangi to Egilsstaðir and in the highlands.” Drivers are advised to reduce their speed when driving in these areas.

You can check Safetravel.is for weather alerts in Icelandic. English, French, German, and Chinese.

Icy Road Warning Throughout Country

Snowstorm Iceland

Travelers should expect ice on all main roads in the capital area as well as on roads throughout the country, RÚV reports.

According to a forecast from the Icelandic Met Office, while snow storms are expected around most of the country this weekend, the Northeast should enjoy clear skies for the next few days, although it will get steadily colder. South and East Iceland can expect high winds and snow or sleet today, as well as rain along the coasts. Northwest Iceland will likely avoid precipitation for most of the weekend.

South and East Iceland will get warmer tomorrow, allowing for a thaw in those regions. However, a northeasterly wind on Sunday, will bring more snow and sleet, and the temperature will drop again. This will lead to roads icing over in this region.

In the West and Southwest, there will be a snowstorm tonight and considerable snow cover come tomorrow morning. West Iceland will also get a lot of snow, and road conditions will be icy. There will be considerable ice throughout the Westfjords, as well as intermittent snowstorms. North, Northeast, and East Iceland will have widespread ice. All main roads in the capital area are expected to be icy all weekend.

The icy road warning is an especially important one for drivers to heed given that icy driving conditions lead to a serious accident on the south coast only yesterday.

Drivers are reminded to check up-to-date weather conditions (in English) on the Icelandic Met Office website (here) and road conditions on the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration website (here). Safe Travel Iceland is also a valuable resource (in English, German, French, Chinese, and Icelandic) for safe driving and traveling tips, as well as important alerts.