Iceland's weather is known for its unpredictability, with conditions often changing throughout the day. In general, Iceland's climate can be described as cool temperate maritime, influenced greatly by the North Atlantic Current, which makes the weather milder than might be expected at such a northerly latitude.
In the summer, which is from June to August, temperatures can reach up to 15-20°C (59-68°F), but can occasionally go higher. The summer also has long days, with near 24-hour daylight in the middle of the season due to the midnight sun.
The winter, from December to February, is relatively mild for its latitude, with temperatures often hovering around freezing point (0°C or 32°F), but can drop below -10°C (14°F) especially in the northern parts. Snowfall is common in winter, especially in the north and east of the country. Winter also brings shorter daylight hours, with the shortest day in December only having about 4 hours of daylight.
It's also worth noting that Iceland is known for its strong winds and sudden shifts in weather, and it's not uncommon to experience multiple types of weather in a single day. So it's always good advice to dress in layers and be prepared for various conditions if you're visiting Iceland.
In Iceland, there are three different colors for weather warnings: yellow, orange, and red.
Yellow weather warnings are common, while red ones are extremely rare.
When there is a weather warning for the region where you are traveling, it is important to read the warning and make decisions based on its information. If there is a weather warning, it is advisable to monitor the forecast closely and seek guidance from your accommodation or an information center if you are unsure about what to do.
It's crucial to note that a yellow or orange warning does not necessarily mean that you should avoid traveling that day. The warning may indicate dangerous conditions in proximity to your location, but not necessarily where you are or where you are headed.
Weather warnings are issued for larger regions and sometimes only apply to a small part of that region.
In Iceland, the units used in weather forecasts are similar to those used throughout Europe. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (°C), precipitation (rainfall or snowfall) is usually measured in millimeters (mm) and wind speed is typically provided in meters per second (m/s).
For travelers visiting Iceland, it is recommended to familiarize themselves with these units and understand how to convert them to their local units if necessary. This will help in better understanding and interpreting the weather forecast information and planning accordingly.
If you're looking for reliable weather forecasts in Iceland, consider these three sources: vedur.is, wet.is (also known as blika.is), and belgingur.is.
Vedur.is, operated by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, is a reliable source for weather forecasts, measurements, and warnings. However, its website is not very user-friendly on mobile devices and may feel outdated. Also, its forecasts are available for fewer locations compared to other platforms. Nevertheless, it does offer useful and detailed forecast maps.
Next, wet.is, operated by Veðurvaktin, a private forecasting company, stands out for its range. It offers forecasts and weather measurements for a wide selection of locations in Iceland, and includes weather warnings. Interestingly, you can see forecasts from both their own model and the one from vedur.is at wet.is. While their forecast maps may lack the detail of those on vedur.is, their coverage is broader.
Lastly, belgingur.is creates user-friendly forecast maps based on its own model. Note, however, that this site doesn't offer weather warnings and is available only in Icelandic.
These are the only reliable sources for weather forecasts in Iceland as they use high-resolution models optimized for Icelandic conditions. As of June 2023, other sources have generally proven unreliable for Iceland's weather and should not be used when traveling in the country.
In Iceland, camper vans are more susceptible to wind than regular vehicles, leading to instances of them being blown off the road each year. Therefore, it's crucial to monitor wind gust forecasts closely. For reliable forecasts, check our gust forecast.
In summer, daytime temperatures typically range between 10 - 15˚C. However, on occasion, they can exceed 20˚C and even reach above 25˚C. It's noteworthy that temperatures can drop below freezing during the night throughout the year. During winter, temperatures hover around freezing, but on the coldest days, especially in the north and areas distant from the ocean, they can plunge below -20˚C.
The common belief that the weather forecast is only accurate for 1 or 2 days is a long-standing myth. In reality, modern weather forecasting is generally reliable for at least the next 5 days. However, it's crucial to rely on reputable sources for accurate forecasts. Your weather app from home will likely not be any good in Iceland