Iceland: Weather Overview
The recent volcanic eruption at Mount Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland has resulted in ash, gases and particles spreading to the jet stream 40 to 5000 feet up in altitude. The result is a danger that these particles melt in the jet engines and cause them to malfunction.
This has caused and continues to do so: much disruption to the travel industry with many flights cancelled. Most travel insurance companies have refused to cover this within their policies quoting that this is an "Act of God" and therefore there is no cover available. However, JS Insurance has one broker, that being: Towergate AUL who will cover for cancellation. For more information and a travel insurance quote go to JS Insurance.
The weather effects of this eruption are not as bad as first thought. There is a loss of solar radiation as when the sun shines from the stratosphere, the dust cloud blocks the rays shining on the earth and thus reflect back, this creates a cooling fo the earth.
There are climate change implications though, the sulphur dioxide gas will combine with water high in the stratosphere to produce sulphuric acid that produces a haze that will stay up in the stratosphere for 1 to 3 years. This will push the sun rays back into space and therefore there will be a cooling effect.
In spite of its implying name and extreme north Atlantic position, Icelandâs climate is not as cold as some might be anticipated. Because of the Icelandic coastal weather is regulated by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, Icelandâs mid-winter average temperatures are no lower than those in New York City.
Summers in Iceland is relatively mild with temperatures arraying from 5Â°C at night to as high as 25Â°C throughout the day. As one could imagine, however, winters are rather cold as average January temperatures are at -0.5Â°C.
Throughout the summer months; particularly in Reykjavik, there are nearly 24 hours of continuous daylight, while in the northern areas of the country the sun barely sets at all. From mid-November until the end of January, in the darkness of winter, the opposite is true, with the country only experiencing a few hours of daylight each day. Throughout the months of early spring and late autumn, long hours of twilight are visible. The colourful âAurora Borealisâ also know as the Northern Lights also appear in late autumn to early winter.
Even though the south is the wettest and sometimes coldest part of the country, but snow is uncommon. Whereas coastal regions have a tendency to experience winter gales and are usually quite windy.
Iceland experiences a strong variance in climate; some regions can occasionally observe the four seasons over one day; sunny and mild, windy, cool and rainy and snow with temperatures below freezing point.
The established wind direction is easterly and westerlies are very sporadic. Generally speaking, wind speeds are likely to be higher in the highlands, but topographical qualities can heighten winds and cause strong gusts in lowland areas. The average wind speed summits at around 80.5km per hour, while the average storm wind speed lingers around 29km per hour.
Heavy dust storms can be produced by sturdy frosty winds and can be very strong and powerful.
Thunderstorms are particularly rare in Iceland, with less than five storms per year in the southern part of the island. When storms do take place they are most widespread in late summertime when warm air is deflected to northern latitudes from warm air masses over Europe. They can also be caused by warm air masses coming up from the North American continent, or deep lows from the southwest in wintertime when cold air is drawn off Canada warms rapidly over the ocean, forming masses of thunderclouds. Lightning can typically be observed in relation with ash plumes erupting from the islandâs volcanoes. Lightning during a thunderstorm in March 1965 killed three people in southwestern Iceland.
A typical Icelandic winter is relatively mild for its latitude and its proximity to the arctic circle. The southerly valleys of the island average at approximately 0Â°C in winter, while the highlands tend to average around -10Â°C. The lowest temperatures in the northern part of the isle vary from roughly -25Â°C to -30Â°C. However, the lowest temperature ever recorded was in January 1971 when the climate dropped to a freezing -39.7Â°C.
Summers can actually be relatively warm in Iceland, with various summer temperatures reaching as high as that of a typical English summer. The regular July temperature in the southern part of the island is 10Â°C to 13Â°C, however warm summer days can reach 20Â°C to 25ÂºC. The highest temperature recorded was 30.5Â°C in the Eastern fjords in August 1939. Annual average sunshine hours in Reykjavik are around 1300, which is similar to towns in Scotland and Ireland.
Ocean Currents and Temperatures
A division of the Gulf Stream; the Irminger Current, streams along the southern and the western coast of Iceland, helping to moderate the overall climate. The chilly Eastern Greenland Current heads over the west of Iceland, but a can also approach Icelandâs northeast and east coasts. Both of these currents are related in the coastal sea surface temperatures around the entire country of Iceland. The average sea temperatures will generally sit close to 2Â°C during the coldest months; January to March. While sea temperatures will rise to over 10Â°C at the south and west coasts of Iceland during the summer they are slightly cooler in the north coast sitting at around 8Â°C, but are the coldest towards the eastern coast where temperatures linger around 7Â°C.