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The coldest day in 100 years in Iceland: How greatest to journey in Winter

The coldest day in 100 years in Iceland: How best

Over the festive interval this 12 months, Iceland has acquired unseasonably chilly climate, with temperatures dropping as little as -23 Celsius (-9F) within the capital area. Up on the ice caps, it has been far colder nonetheless.

For a rustic with the title ‘Iceland’ you may be mistaken for pondering that it is a regular incidence within the useless of winter. After all, on the twenty first of December in Iceland, we’re solely aware about round 4 hours of direct daylight. Add within the excessive latitude of this remoted nation (64 – 66 levels North), being in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, skirting the sting of the Arctic Circle, and also you’d be forgiven for anticipating a barren tundra with sub-zero temperatures being the norm.

The actuality is sort of totally different.

It’s not usually this chilly

Despite all of the obvious doom and gloom, Iceland is surprisingly heat over winter (more often than not). The locals don’t simply survive throughout this time, however really thrive. In reality, the typical temperature in winter skates across the Zero Degrees Celsius mark (32 F). This is thanks, in probably the most half, to the Gulf Stream sending up heat water 12 months spherical. Without this heat stream of water and air, Iceland can be experiencing chilly temperatures like what we’ve been seeing for the previous 2 weeks far more frequently. This degree of chilly was final recorded in Reykjavík over 100 years in the past, in 1918.

Instead, it’s not essentially assured that you simply’ll even get a white Christmas in Iceland, not to mention freezing situations. Don’t get me fallacious, we get loads of snow in winter and loads of chilly snaps to take care of, however in probably the most half it’s far more palatable and manageable.

In essence, Iceland offers an exquisite Arctic expertise with out having to fight harmful sub-zero temperatures like within the north of Norway, Canada and Greenland.

A traditional journey to Iceland in winter may embody – mountains topped with snow, reindeer alongside the edges of the highway, glaciers glistening blue, and icebergs rhythmically shifting back and forth with the tides. Oh, and the Northern Lights do make the odd look too.

Will the chilly entrance proceed?

At the time of writing (2nd of January, 2023), it’s nonetheless fairly chilly however in Reykjavík proper now, it’s already risen to be above Zero Celsius. A welcome respite. I’ve little doubt the temperature will drop once more within the coming days, based mostly on the forecast, however possible nearer to the norms of winter. Thankfully, across the coast of Iceland, particularly within the south the place many vacationers spend nearly all of their time, we’re typically spared from the worst of the chilly.

Hidden Iceland

Blue ice caves, snowmobiling and glacier hikes

So with this yo-yoing temperature above and under freezing level you might assume that Iceland’s wintery aesthetic is much less assured than you instantly thought. And for positive, the roads and cities alongside the south should not essentially engulfed in snow and ice all winter lengthy, however fortunately Iceland has one pure useful resource that ensures a winter wonderland – the glaciers. They’re even accessible within the balmy summer season months too.

From November till March (my favorite time of 12 months), the temperature up on the glaciers is chilly sufficient to scale back the melting charge of the ice and provides solution to empty caverns of blue ice (the ice caves). These are shaped from the melting ice in summer season carving holes and tunnels into the glacier. When the temperature drops in winter, the rivers of water flowing by these cavities on the glacier disappear, abandoning distinctive and short-term buildings. For just a few selection months, these caves are secure to enter (with an skilled native information). The hues of blue that emanate in each route whereas exploring these icy behemoths must be on everybody’s bucket listing.

Further up on prime of the glaciers, you might be welcome to discover the floor by snowmobile. The increased you get in altitude, the extra possible you might be to expertise a thick layer of snow on prime of the ice, permitting you to journey at nice speeds by snowmobile (once more, with an skilled information).

Even in summer season, when the temperatures are nearer to fifteen Celsius (60 F), you possibly can strap on a pair of crampons (spikes on your ft) and discover the floor on an adventurous glacier hike.

Is journey in winter one thing I can do myself?

I’m going to contradict myself a bit right here in any case my speak of it being ‘not that cold’. Iceland has a temperate local weather. This means it’s quite a bit hotter than anticipated. That half is true. However, it additionally means you usually tend to encounter dramatic adjustments in climate patterns from in the future to the following. Sometimes even one hour to the following. So the roads may be icy, the winds may be robust, there may be a flurry of snow, and naturally there’s all the time the prospect of rain too. Don’t get me fallacious, it’s also possible to get lovely blue skies and a transparent dusting of snow throughout the panorama, the wintery wonderland that you simply have been hoping for.

So with all that contradictory rhetoric taken into consideration, I’d counsel that it’s higher to err on the facet of warning in winter. As quickly because it hits round mid-October till roughly mid-April, it is best to hold up your driving gloves and belief the locals to indicate you round as an alternative. For specialist actions, like those talked about above, it’s a necessity anyway, however I’d hasten so as to add that driving in winter may nearly be thought-about a specialist exercise in its personal proper on a number of the days. Thankfully, most guiding firms shall be properly versed within the nuances of the climate patterns in Iceland, have automobiles designed for winter driving, and make use of skilled drivers to maintain you secure – to not point out that having an area information lead you across the sights provides an additional component of immersion which you can’t get simply from a information ebook.


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So why not take the stress of monitoring climate, contemplating highway situations and checking for closures out of the equation when travelling to Iceland and simply deal with the enjoyable stuff, i.e. Northern Lights, Ice Caves, Icelandic horses and the numerous different thrilling issues that Iceland has to supply. Sounds like a good suggestion to me?

See you quickly!

Ryan Connolly is Co-Founder of Hidden Iceland. Hidden Iceland specialises in personal journeys, taking you to a number of the hidden gems of Iceland with a passionate and skilled information.

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