The climate of Iceland
The name Iceland gives the impression that it is always freezing cold
here. However, when you take the northerly location into account this
turns out quite differently. The most northerly part of Iceland
borders the Arctic Circle and has a cold maritime climate (type Cfc
according to the Köppen climate classification) Which changes into a
tundra climate (type ET). Both winters and summers are cold. A
striking fact about the country is that the rugged weather matches the
rugged landscape. The many depressions that pass over Iceland at a
rapid pace cause bleak weather accompanied by rain (or snow) and
fierce winds. Fierce gusts of wind in combination with cold rain or
snow may cause an unpleasant feel on the plains and in the streets of
Water doesn’t only fall from the sky. Water is also squirted into the
sky by geysers on the island that has a lot of volcanic activity. The
warm water that is squirted into the sky is one of the natural
phenomena that contributes to the natural beauty of the island.
Climate information of places and areas in Iceland
The climate information given on this page is only brief. Specific
information on weather and climate can be found on the pages per
region or city. The following climate information is available for
Influence of the Atlantic Ocean
Iceland benefits from the warm sea water that is supplied by the
Atlantic Gulf Stream from the south. Because of this influence extreme
cold is uncommon in Iceland. Countries at the same latitude do not
have this influence and do get extremely cold weather. However, the
Atlantic Gulf Stream also supplies depressions with moist air from the
southwest and the west. During fall when remains of hurricanes are
supplied from the Caribbean and the USA low pressure areas may pass
Iceland in a weakened form. When this happens bleak weather and fierce
winds may occur in the rugged landscape of Iceland.
Summers in Iceland are not suitable for a sun and beach holiday.
The best place in Iceland to put on your bikini or swimming trunks is
in one of the warm water springs that cause these natural swimming
pools to be of a very pleasant temperature. During summer average
temperatures during the afternoon are between 10-14 degrees Celsius.
In the higher areas in the southwestern part of the country
(Vatnajökull) temperatures even hardly rise above freezing point
during summer. This is also where you can find glaciers and glacier
Grey, fairly wet and relatively mild. That is the best way to describe
winters in Iceland. December and January only get 4-5 hours of
daylight which makes this period very dreary. Under the influence of
the warm sea water it doesn’t get really cold in the southwestern part
and along the south coast. However, periods with harsh wintry weather
are not uncommon in these areas. In the southern part of the country
average 24-hour temperatures during the winter (from December till
February) are just below freezing point. In the northern part this is
a few degrees Celsius below zero. The volcanic mountain range in the
southwestern part of the country get the coldest winters. At the
glaciers average 24-hour temperatures are between -10 to -15 degrees
Celsius. During cold nights with clear skies temperatures may even
drop to extremely low figures of -30 degrees Celsius.
Annual precipitation figures in Iceland are between 700-800
millimeters on average. The northern part is the driest part; the
south is the wettest part. This is because of the many depressions
supplied from the south and southwest. The western part of the country
is fairly dry by Icelandic standards. This part gets 800-950 of annual
The figures below are based on long term weather and climate
records. They are an average for Iceland.The north and southeast
(Vatnajökull) are colder. The southeastern part is also slightly
wetter. The southwestern part of Iceland is warmer and the northerly
areas are drier.
More climate information
Climate tables are useful but they don’t give an overall picture of
the climate and possible weather conditions during a period of time.
How high the chances are of hot or cold weather or hurricanes can
often not be found in these tables. This is why we offer extra climate
information per month. The figures below are for the larger part of
Iceland. However, local deviations may occur. Chances of summer
weather are almost nil in the northern part of the country as well as
in the higher regions. Chances of wintry weather are higher in the
northern part of the country and in Vatnajökull.
The information at this site was carefully composed from climate data collected by meteorological services, meteorological offices, climate experts and other sources. “More climate info” is based on statistics, climate data and personal experience. No rights can be derived from this site. Weather has no memory and gives no guaranties. Nothing is as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. The authors of this site feel in no way responsible for any damages caused by misinterpretation or other circumstances that may influence your holiday or trip to a certain destination. We provide information, it’s up to the reader to use it to it’s benefit.