Cold Spell Likely to Persist Well Into the Weekend, Next Week

winter tires reykjavík

Following a weekend of relatively warm weather, temperatures in Iceland plummeted below 0°C on Monday. Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson informed Vísir that a prolonged cold spell, caused by “pure arctic air,” would likely continue into next week.

“Voices of spring silenced”

After temperatures dropped below freezing on Monday, a Vísir reporter reached out to meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson, who predicted that freezing temperatures would persist until at least this weekend.

“This is a very typical March cold spell, which we’ve seen at this time of year in recent years. Neither worse nor milder than previous cold spells. The arctic has become quite cold, and this cold air often drifts southward,” Einar Sveinbjörnsson observed.

According to Einar, the freezing temperatures are expected to persist until next weekend, with the possibility of the cold spell continuing into next week.

“It started to get cold [on the day before] yesterday, with freezing temperatures being registered throughout the country. Unlike the prolonged cold spell from last December, this current cold snap was accompanied by wind,” Einar remarked. He pointed out that the fair weather last weekend had made many people think that spring was on its way:

But it’s like that book, which marked the beginning of the environmental movement [Silent Spring]: the voices of spring fall silent – because the voices of spring certainly fell silent quite suddenly. But it would have been unnatural if we had begun to see spring-like conditions at the beginning of March. If such a thing were to become a reality, one would begin to fear the effects of climate change,” Einar observed.

Einar concluded by saying that the cold air originated from ice sheets in the arctic: “The air is also dry, not much moisture, but, first and foremost, we’ll continue to see cold weather and wind chill.”

Twenty Rescued from Ski Lift in High Winds

Twenty people were rescued from a chairlift at the Hlíðarfjall ski area outside Akureyri on Friday afternoon, RÚV reports. The lift stalled when the wire was blown off its spool by a strong blast of wind, stranding about 20 people mid-air for close to two hours. Luckily, the area’s Search and Rescue crew was able to get everyone to safety and no one was injured in the process.

Weather conditions are assessed at ski areas every day to determine if it’s safe to open. But while conditions weren’t ideal at Hlíðarfjall on Friday, the wind wasn’t initially so strong that it was thought unsafe to ski and snowboard. By the afternoon, however, the weather had taken a turn for the worse.

From noon, the wind started to pick up again, and it was decided to stop letting people in the lift at 12:30,” explained a post on the Hlíðarfjall Facebook page. “There were still 21 people on the lift. Our chairlifts have built-in wind protection that slows down and stops the lift at certain wind speeds. An attempt was made to drive the lift slowly backwards in the hope of evacuating it, but as the wind continued to increase, it did not work and the lift came to a complete stop.

The Súlur Search and Rescue team used special equipment to rescue those who had been stranded on the chairlift in high winds. Image via the Hlíðarfjall Akureyri Facebook page.

It was then that Search and Rescue and police were called, explained Hlíðarfjall director Brynjar Helgi Ásgeirson. Ski area staff regularly train in ski lift rescues, but the wind, which had reached 20 m/s [44.7 mph], made the process much more difficult.

Luckily, everyone on the lift was back on the ground within two hours of it stopping. Australian Andrew Davis was one of those rescued from the lift. He told reporters that everyone who was stuck kept calm, and no one seemed to be in too bad a shape, though the wind was battering them about.

Andrew said he did consider jumping from the lift, as he was confident he could have stuck the landing. But in the end, he decided to wait it out, and saluted the Search and Rescue team for their fast work. Two 13-year-old girls were also amongst the stranded, but Bynjar Helgi said they were “quite upbeat” when they made it back to the ground.

After the rescue, those who had been stranded were offered trauma counselling, although no one chose to take it. What everyone did want, however, was the hot chocolate that ski area staff had waiting for them. “After a short while and some hot cocoa, people were smiling and putting this down to experience,” said Brynjar Helgi.

Hlíðarfjall was closed on Saturday due to unsafe weather conditions. To check current conditions and look at the area’s web cams (in English), see the Hlíðarfjall website, here.

Peace Tower Lighting Ceremony Cancelled Due to Weather

Imagine Peace Tower

The annual lighting of the Imagination Peace Tower ceremony on the island of Víðey just off the coast of Reykjavík has been cancelled due to inclement weather. Per an announcement on the City of Reykjavík’s website, Sunday’s planned celebrations have been called off due to wind warnings in Faxaflói Bay, where Víðey is located.

The Imagine Peace Tower is an outdoor artwork by Yoko Ono in memory of her late husband, John Lennon. The white stone monument emits a tower of light, which extends upward at least 4,000 metres (13,100 feet) on a clear night. The words “Imagine Peace” are inscribed on the monument in 24 languages. The tower is lit every year from October 9th, Lennon’s birthday, through December 8th, the date of his assassination. It has been lit every year since 2007.

Lighting will be livestreamed

Typically, free ferries transport guests to Víðey on the evening of the lighting to observe the ceremony and participate in a variety of activities, from live music performances to guided history walks around the island.

Although the in-person ceremony has been cancelled this year, the tower will still be lit as usual, at 8:00PM local time. The lighting will be broadcast live on the Imagine Peace Tower website and RÚV’s television and radio schedule on Sunday evening will include a number of related content, such as a TV segment on the history of the tower, and a radio documentary about the life of John Lennon. His song “Imagine” will also be broadcast at 8:00PM, when the tower is lit.

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.

Weather Forecast Worsens Across Iceland

weather rain Reykjavík

The yellow weather alert issued by the Icelandic Met Office for today has been upgraded to orange in most of the country. Locals and tourists are discouraged from travelling due to gale-force winds and heavy precipitation in the form of rain or snow that will make roads treacherous. Residents are encouraged to secure outdoor furniture and belongings.

Wind gusts will reach speeds of up to 28 metres per second in South and West Iceland today as well as the Westfjords, with strong gusts expected by mountains and high buildings. Winds will reach up to 30 metres per second in the Central Highland and at least 23 metres per second in all other regions. Snow, sleet, and slippery conditions are expected on mountain roads.

Icelandic Met Office. Weather alert September 21, 2021.

In the west of the country, weather conditions will worsen until late afternoon today and will begin improving by this evening. Northeast Iceland will continue to experience extreme conditions throughout Wednesday as the low front moves eastward across the country.

Gale-Force Winds, Rain, and Snow Across Iceland Tomorrow

yellow weather warning Icelandic Met Office

While in some countries yellow leaves are a sure sign of autumn, in Iceland the same can be said of yellow weather alerts. A low front will sweep in to the country tomorrow, hitting all regions with strong or even gale-force winds. South and Southeast Iceland, as well as the Faxaflói bay area, will also experience heavy rain tomorrow, while other regions may see precipitation in the form of rain or snow.

Strong gusts of wind are expected across the country tomorrow reaching speeds of up to 25 metres per second in several regions. Gusts will be particularly strong below mountains, making travel hazardous. Precipitation will likely be in the form of snow or sleet on mountain roads.

Residents are advised to secure outdoor furniture and avoid travel if possible. Road conditions are updated regularly on road.is and weather information is available on the Icelandic Met Office website. Weather should improve by Tuesday evening in the west and Wednesday morning in the east of the country.

Weather Warning for Eastern Half of Iceland

weather warning

A yellow weather warning is in effect for the eastern half of Iceland from noon today until 3.00am tomorrow. This includes the Northeast, Southeast, Eastfjords and Central Highland. West and northwest winds with gusts of up over 30 metres per second are expected in some areas.

Residents of the affected areas are encouraged to secure any outdoor belongings. Travellers are encouraged to drive carefully and can expect sleet or snow on mountain roads.

Road Between Vík and Hvolsvöllur Closed Due to Storm

Ring Road South Iceland
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration have closed the road between Hvolsvöllur and Vík due to a storm. The road will be closed until weather conditions allow a re-opening. It’s also planned to close the roads in Skeiðarársandur and Öræfasveit district at 20:00 tonight.

An orange warning has been put in place in South Iceland. Winds speeds are expected to rise up to violent storm level, that is up to 28-30 m/s, between 15:00 and 16:00 east of Hvolsvöllur and Seljalandsfoss. Similar wind speeds will be reached farther East by 18:00 on the main road between Lómagnúpur and Jökulsárlón. The warning is valid until tomorrow morning.

The most severe wind in the country was measured at 32,6 metres per second in Stórhöfði, Vestmannaeyjar. That wind speed is considered a violent storm, and right below hurricane level winds, according to the Beaufort scale which measures wind speed.
An orange weather alert is in force in South Iceland, South-East Iceland as well as the Highlands. A yellow weather warning alert has been released for North-East Iceland, as well as parts of East Iceland. The alerts will last until tomorrow morning. For further information about the weather alerts – head to https://en.vedur.is/alerts
For further information contact the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration at http://www.road.is or call 1777.