It´s 2017 already and with increasing number of tourists in Iceland throughout the whole year, some new precautions are necessary. The organisation Safe Travel is putting a lot of energy into keeping the tourists up-to-date when it comes to weather and road conditions and here I´m posting a part of their info and hoping for your feedback on how useful or not this is. Enjoy the read and I look fwd to your comments.
Here we have the forecast for the next few days. Both road conditions and the weather forecast should be checked multiple times a day for the forecast given is not a 100% reliable such a long time in advance – check out: www.road.is + en.vedur.is
Weather and road conditions January 26th 2017:
The weather over the next two days will change quite a bit. Tonight we are expecting snow in southwest Iceland but once the morning arrives lowland-roads will most likely become more wet.
Northeast and East Iceland should be free of precipitation for a bit. Icy roads should be expected in all Iceland due to the fact that temperatures will be at or just below freezing.
Fri: Temperatures will drop in SW, wind will calm down which results in some icy roads. 15-17 m/s winds can be expected on mountain roads in Northwest and Northeast with some snow. This could result in some difficult driving conditions, especially for those not used to these conditions.
Sat: Winds from North east will bring colder temperatures. Temperatures below freezing in all Iceland with snow and snow showers in northeast, especially from Siglufjörður to Seyðisfjörður. Things will calm down a bit in the south.
Sun: We expect things to calm down in all Iceland and there is a good chance we‘ll have a beautiful, calm yet cold day. Late that evening snow comes in from the southwest but not until very late.
The highland roads are all impassable as usual and will stay that way until late spring or early summer! Those travelers that wish to visit the highlands must do so with a scheduled tour in a modified vehicle. We‘ve had a few incidences where visitors think that having a 4x4 vehicle is enough to do this – that‘s of course not the case! The damages can cost thousands of dollars so it‘s important to inform out guests of this!
Popular tourist sites:
As mentioned earlier, our highlands are only accessible in a modified vehicle incl. popular sites such as Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk, Kverkfjöll, Snæfell and Kerlingafjöll. Not all these roads will be closed with a clear closure over the road so it‘s important that our visitors are informed of this before heading out. Some traveler think that a 4x4 is good enough to handle the wintery highlands but that of course is not the case.
The area arond Gullfoss will continue to gather some snow. All the trails in the area are icy and the main trail up to the waterfall is CLOSED. It‘s important to inform our guests that there is a good and valid reason for the closure! Invisible spots of very slippery ice underneath the snow so it‘s very easy to slip and fall. Crampons recommended on other trails in the area.
The trail towards Dettifoss is marked, covered in some snow but very slippery underneath and therefore we recommend crampons!
The road from Ring Road 1 towards the falls (862) is open but from there and north to Ásbyrgi is impassible.
Two dry toilets are open.
Hiking trails in Ásbyrgi are nice, light snow over everything all the way towards Botnstjörn. Slippery spots underneath the snow so crampons are recommended. Road to Ásbyrgi from the north is extremely slippery at some points but should be passable for all vehicles.
Reynisfjara is always dangerous, in all kinds of weather, due to the unpredictability of the waves. It‘s not that the waves are big, it‘s the fact that they are sneaky. Every 7th, 10th or 12th wave goes a lot further up the beach than the rest and this can catch visitors by surprise that are too close to the water. The sand is very fine and the sheer pulling factor of the wave makes it easy for it to pull visitors out to sea. If you know that your guests are going there by themselves – make sure they are informed of this.
Kirkjufjara by Dyrhólaey has been CLOSED due to increased dangers in rockslides and deadly sneaker waves.
Popular hiking trails:
Esjan: To hike up to „The Rock“ is fine. We don‘t recommend that poeple continue to the top due to ice. We recommend that poeple bring their crampons along as there is more and more ice on the trail as you go higher. Snow is covering the whole trail so it‘s hard to see the ice. People must not underestimate Mt. Esja because of how accessible she is – during the winter time you need proper hiking boots along with proper gear for winter!
Skaftafell: Trails up to Svartifoss and Sjónarnípa have spots of ice so it’s recommended that hikers have their crampons with them. Longer trails such as Kristínartindar are only for very experienced hikers! You’ll need a guide’s expertise with that one! Headlights should be kept in mind since the day is short!
The campsite is open but is not serviced. The only service in the area are bathrooms and two showers by the Information Center Skaftafellsstofa. People can pay for the campsites inside there and will be charged half price.
Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls: Both these trails are closed for normal traffic. There are no scheduled busses running to or from Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. The start of the Fimmvörðuháls hike above Skógafoss has been closed for now due to bad conditions and in attempt to restore and protect vegetation in the area.
Reykjadalur: The trail is now snow-covered with spots of ice underneath. It is marked with trail markers. It can be very slippery so it‘s important that visitors wear proper hiking boots. It‘s a hike that might be easily accessible but during the winter it can be a lot more challenging than in ideal summery conditions. Headlights should be kept in mind!
Glymur waterfall: the ideal spot to see the waterfall is from the southern side of the canyon but to reach that you need to cross Botnsá. Usually, during the summer, there is a log people can cross on but during the winter it is removed due to danger and therefore it is necessary to cross the river on foot. The trail after that can be quite steep and slippery. It‘s always better to have crampons on this hike. The hike can take around 3-4 hours at this time so it‘s important to keep a headlight close by.
Avalanche danger: Moderate (level 2/5)
Moderate danger in mountainous areas like Northern Westfjords, Tröllaskagi Peninsula and Eastfjords. Further info can be found here: http://en.vedur.is/avalanches/