It is fair to say that the weather in Iceland is quite unpredictable and we have a saying that “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes, it will change”.
When this blog is written in the middle of February, we have had four days with snow in Reykjavik since the winter started in October / November. So the winter has been very mild in the south of Iceland while the north part of Iceland has record high amounts of snow.
Iceland is milder than most people can imagine. Just the name indicates “cold and ice”, hence Iceland. Because of the North Atlantic current, circling Iceland, the land is inhabitable and much milder than areas of similar latitude.
The average temperature during the summer months is 12 degrees centigrade. During the winter months the average temperature is plus 2 C. The highest temperature measured in Iceland was +30,5C while the lowest temperature was -39,7C.
We can say that there are two systems, the north and the south and the weather depends upon which direction the wind is blowing from south or north. When the low pressure weather systems pass the Atlantic the weather in Iceland depends on how close to the country they pass. In general if they come close to Iceland we have southerly and then easterly winds blowing with rain and wind in the south of Iceland. Then there is usually a high pressure area over the UK and northern Europe with good weather. If the low pressure weather system passes the Atlantik more south then we have a high pressure weather system over Iceland with northerly wind blowing and good weather in the south part of the country and rain in the north part of Iceland and also in the UK and Europe.
Generally the north is colder during the winter and tends to be warmer during the summer. In the middle we have the highlands which are of course few degrees colder than by the coast line.
Even in the summer everything can be expected in the highlands and therefore when travelling in the mountains, one has to be prepared for cold nights.
Even though the met office says that on average the temperatures during the summer is close to 12C, we have good days with temperatures up to 18-20C, sunshine and calm wind. On those days you can easily tell who is icelandic as they are all half naked to enjoy the warmth, while tourists still have their clothes on and even a coat.
In general the rule when travelling in Iceland, no matter which season it is, one never leaves the house without his coat. During winter a good coat, hat, gloves, good shoes are recommended, but nothing extreme. Just ordinary clothes one would use in Europe or the northern parts of the USA.
Here are links to websites with information about the weather in Iceland: