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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

The weather in Iceland

Updated: May 17, 2023

Iceland is a cold country
Iceland is a cold country

Icelandic weather is famously unpredictable, and this is something that both locals and visitors must accept year-round, regardless of the season. While the Meteorological Office issues daily and weekly forecasts, the weather often behaves differently. Most Icelanders have a mindset of expecting the worst weather but are happy with anything better than their expectations. This attitude applies to all seasons; good weather is a relative term in Iceland. However, it is generally colder in the winter and warmer in the summer. Contrary to popular belief, the temperature difference between winter and summer is relatively narrow, with winters rarely being extremely cold and summers seldom being very warm.

The wind factor

In good weather it is always beutiful
In good weather it is always beutiful

Iceland's coastal areas and towns, including Reykjavik, generally experience mild temperatures. However, the actual temperature can feel much colder due to the strong winds and storms that are common during the winter months. The wind can make a cold day feel even colder, amplifying the temperature difference. For example, a day with a temperature of minus 3 or 6 degrees Celsius can feel like minus 13 or 16 degrees Celsius due to the wind chill factor.

The altitude factor

Hrafntinnusker is one of the highest places where we have a house in Iceland
Hrafntinnusker is one of the highest places where we have a house in Iceland

Iceland's weather can be unpredictable and varies greatly depending on where you are in the country. If you plan on exploring the mountains, be prepared for colder temperatures as you ascend. While summer is the best time to visit the mountains, it's still important to bring warm clothing and gear. In the winter, it's crucial to have a guide with professional knowledge of the Highland and winter travel if you plan on venturing into the inland. Always prioritize safety and preparation when exploring Iceland's beautiful but challenging terrain.

The daylight factor

When the wind is calm
When the wind is calm

The weather in Iceland is heavily influenced by its location near the Arctic Circle. During the winter months, daylight is scarce, with only a few hours of sunlight each day. However, in the summer, the opposite is true, with daylight available around the clock. This can have a significant impact on the weather, especially when the sky is clear. While winter may bring limited opportunities to enjoy the sun and warmth, summer offers a long stretch of sunny days to soak up the rays.

The psychological factor

Langisjór lake in the Highland
...the places you can visit

The weather in Iceland is a constant topic of conversation among locals, and for good reason. The island nation is known for its unpredictable and often harsh weather conditions, which can greatly impact daily life. In fact, many Icelanders' moods are directly affected by the weather, with bad weather leading to gloominess and good weather bringing about happiness and joy. If you find yourself in an awkward silence with an Icelander, simply bringing up the weather is a surefire way to start a conversation. Whether it's been terrible or great, discussing the weather is a common and easy way to connect with locals.

Taking advantage of the weather as a tourist or a visitor

If you are planning to travel to Iceland, it is a good and solid reason to be aware of the weather factor and the different seasons. You might want to read our article about the best and the worst time to visit Iceland. You might want to plan a visit in accordance with your goal and see if they are attainable in the time you plan to visit. Visiting Iceland in winter and summer is a huge difference. Even visiting Iceland in spring is a considerable difference compared to summer. So if you are planning a trip to Iceland, you can not ignore the weather.

To learn about the weather in Iceland, here is the link to the Icelandic Med Office

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