The crazy weather of Iceland


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The weather in Iceland is crazily changeable, as these photos of Reykjavik’s Sun Voyager sculpture (taken within two hours) show.

There’s a cliché about the weather in Iceland that goes if you don’t like it, you should wait five minutes and it will have changed. I wasn’t expecting this to be literal, but it’s completely true – forget four seasons in one day, you can get four seasons in one hour.

On our first morning in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, the weather was absolutely disgusting as we left our hotel for a walk around town. If this was in England, the whole day would have been written-off as a duvet-day. In heavy rain, we headed for the seafront, where I had heard good things about a sculpture of a boat called the Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic). It was unveiled in 1990 to celebrate the city’s 200th anniversary. It was a pretty hazardous walk there along an icy pavement parallel to a fairly busy main road (Sæbraut).

I remembered seeing photos of the Sun Voyager with snow-capped mountains on the other side of the bay as a backdrop, but as you can see from the photo below these mountains were nowhere to be seen as the wind and rain rolled in from the North Atlantic.

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We popped into a café to dry off and thaw out with a hot chocolate each, before venturing back out in brilliant sunshine. We had brought hats, gloves and scarves with us but didn’t consider bringing the one thing we needed right now – sunglasses.

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But within seconds of taking the picture above, black clouds appeared before a snow blizzard sent us scurrying back for shelter and more hot choccie. From sunglasses to snowshoes in five minutes.

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There’s no doubting that Iceland in March is a cold place, but Reykjavik and the rest of the south west coast benefits from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream (allegedly). The temperature hovered around zero for most of our time there, although it felt a lot colder with the biting wind and the horizontal rain/sleet/hail/snow. Trips to see the Northern Lights were cancelled because of poor weather for four nights in a row, while we saw major snowfall on our tour of the country’s interior (there was so much, our coach got stuck in the stuff and had to be towed out).

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On our last day, we woke up to six inches of fresh new snow and a brilliant blue sky. We didn’t have time to head to the Sun Voyager for what could have been a great photo-shoot, although thinking about it by the time we’d have got there, I’m sure the snow would have melted and thunderclouds would have moved into place.

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Sitting on the dock of the bay

 

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21 comments

  1. You have got some wonderful shots of the sculpture, very atmospheric. Just out of curiosity what camera were you using?

  2. It’s weird, but I never really thought of Iceland’s weather as being so changeable… you kind of assume it’s just a constant cold, haha. Do you know if that is typical of March or an all-year-round thing?

  3. The Suncraft is very photogenic whatever the weather!

  4. I was there in June and experienced the same thing. I’d be bundled up and freezing, head indoors, then rush back out when the sun came out to sit in the sun in short sleeves – all in a few hours one afternoon! The locals came out in droves the minute the sun came out and settled onto benches and blankets for some sunbathing and socializing, and then we all trooped back indoors when the rain started or a heavy cloud came over.

  5. Great shots of the Sun Voyager, Richard. It’s so photogenic 🙂

  6. Very cool pictures, Richard! It is amazing how different it looks from when I was there in August. I do believe you when you say how fast the weather changes – we experienced the same thing! It is such a magical place, would love to return in winter to experience a different season.

  7. These pictures are so stunning! I love this so much! Seriously want to visit Iceland!

  8. I thought it was true.. and I must say I got 4 days of rain in a row last summer 😀

  9. When that wind gets up it’s bitterly cold isn’t it and where are your gloves! Love your shots of the Sun Voyager.

  10. I kept taking my gloves off to turn my camera on and then forgot to put them back on. I’ve just about recovered from the frostbite!

  11. The photos of the sculpture are great, very dramatic. I don’t remember seeing that sculpture when I was there, I don’t know how I managed to miss that. Crazy, crazy weather- sounds like Scotland! When I was in Iceland it was really awful weather and I felt freezing cold most of the time. I suppose it adds some excitement to a trip there and makes it a bit different to the usual city break. It makes those hot chocolates all the more worth it after being out in weather like that.

  12. It’s been there since 1990 but isn’t very big or signposted, so its probably easyish to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

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