Summary

issued 10th Jan 2018 Very heavy winds expected tomorrow with dangerous gusts in the South West and blizzards later in the day. Storm in the North during the night. Friday another storm expected in all regions. Please check conditions before travel on these days. Strong avalanche warnings in the fjords.

Ice lake Iceland

Weather and conditions on the main roads:

Storm tomorrow, Thursday! Wind will pick up in the south after 3PM and will max at around 5-7PM with average wind speed 20-25 m/s and gusts around 40 m/s (90 mph, 145 km/h) from Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport. Blizzard expected on Hellisheiði and Mosfellsheiði in the afternoon – limited visibility on the roads! Hazardous wind gusts on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, in Breiðafjörður and in the Westfjords one can expect a blizzard on the roads after 7PM! Storm expected to hit the north and Eastfjords late in the night, without precipitation! Very important that those driving vehicles that catch a lot of wind plan their travels accordingly – the storm will not take a lot of time to go over.

Friday – another storm expected to visit us – all regions. Snow melt and heavy rain in S-and SE-Iceland! Increased flow in the rivers. Possibility of icy roads. Regarding Saturday we strongly recommend following the forecast as there is uncertainty – a storm could come over that‘s stronger than the previous two!

 

Tourists often mistake 4×4 for a vehicle that can take on all terrain, which is of course not the case and this must be explained as damages can cost thousands of dollars. Drivers who get stuck in rivers or in snow have to get themselves out at own expense – there‘s no insurance in the world that covers damage linked to crossing a river. For this reason it’s very important they know where to access information about road conditions/closures. Illegal to drive off-road!!

 

Conditions in the highlands:

Highland roads are now all closed/impassible for unmodified vehicles! It’s important to be properly equipped for winter – especially those heading for hikes and camping!

 

Conditions in popular tourist sites:

This time of the year the conditions vary a lot on the weather. Trails are now icy/snowy in most parts of Iceland, even on lowlands so we recommend bringing crampons along ALWAYS, regardless of location! These essentials shouldn’t cost more than 3.000-4.000 ISK and make all the difference when exploring Icelandic sites during winter.

 

Reykjanes: Conditions on roads and trails by Gunnuhver are not good.

Þingvellir: Trails are a little icy – Trail at the waterfall is closed due to heavy ice!

Geysir og Gullfoss: It’s very important that travelers stay on marked trails only! The lower trail towards Gullfoss will remain closed this winter due to ice. Crampons highly recommended.

Hraunfossar og Deildartunguhver: Icy and snowy roads and trails.
Snæfellsjökull National Park: Patches of ice on trails. Roads 570 and 571 over the glacier are closed!
South Westfjords: Roads towards Látrabjarg and Rauðisandur are difficult as there’s no winter service! Road over Dynjandisheiði (60) and Hrafnseyrarheiði (60) are impassible as is the road from Bíldudalur east towards the southern fjords of Arnarfjörður (63) so Dynjandi cannot be visited. Road 643 towards Krossnes in Strandir also impassible!

Hvítserkur: The road to Hvítserkur from the road 711 is closed and will remain so until spring. Weather dependent as to view the rock you’ll have to walk for 10 minutes.
Goðafoss: Considerable amount of snow and ice in the area – important to wear good shoes and crampons! Trails on the west side not recommended as they are not marked and it’s not clear where the edge ends and the ice on the river begins!
Dettifoss og Selfoss: Road 864 remains closed. 862 open yet very slippery. Trails icy, crampons recommended.

Hengifoss: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.
Reynisfjara: Big waves expected tomorrow, Thursday and day after! The beach can always be dangerous due to the unpredictability of the waves. It‘s not every wave – it‘s every 7th or 10th or 12th wave that goes a lot further up the beach than the rest making it difficult to assess danger upon arrival. There are no rocks in the ocean that break the waves and only a few meters of shore there‘s an underwater cliff so the pulling factor of these already powerful waves becomes even greater. On top of this the sand is very fine ash which makes it extra difficult to get away from these waves.
Same applies to Djúpalónssandur in Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufjara beach but it‘s CLOSED for this reason.
Skógafoss: Area around the waterfall is quite slippery. The steps are ok but ice increases with elevation gain!
Seljalandsfoss: The walking path behind the waterfall is closed due to risk of falling ice.
Þórsmörk/Goðaland: Closed/Impassible for those not in a modified vehicle. Staff will remain in Húsadalur throughout the winter. Due to rain the river is a little deeper and the current is stronger!
Vestmannaeyjar: The ferry will depart from Þorlákshöfn until further notice on www.seatours.is (top of website).
Landmannalaugar: Roads closed/impassible for those NOT in a modified vehicle! The snow that’s there is now very heavy due to rain and it’s very difficult to get around! Unstaffed for the next week.

 

Conditions on hiking trails:

Hiking during winter time requires proper equipment even on shorter hikes. Please study our equipment list as preparation is key for successful travel in Iceland. Winter has arrived in most areas in Iceland so we recommend having minor crampons with you at all time.

 

Esjan: Must not be underestimated! Considerably colder up top than by the roots. Warm clothing is essential! Crampons highly recommended. Mountain crampons needed to go beyond Steinn as snow and ice are along that climb.

Skaftafell: S1 and S2, most popular trails to the glacier and to Svartifoss waterfall, are ok. Area very wet so beyond Svartifoss that can be expected. Heavy rain in the forecast so muddy conditions could result in wardens having to close some trails!
Reykjadalur: Very slippery conditions! Important to wear crampons – not passible in sneakers! Important to stay on the trail as it’s surrounded by dangerous hot springs and very vulnerable nature!
Ásbyrgi: Ice and snow on all the trails!
Glymur: Ice on the trail and snow increases with elevation gain. Log over the river Botnsá will not return until spring so now hikers must either cross the river on foot, go up on the west side (not a good angle to see the waterfall) or take a longer route over the old bridge along the hiking route “Leggjabrjótur”.

Avalanche conditions:

Those heading into the backcountry have to keep the following in mind!

Weak layers in the snow, windrifted and unstable. The warmth has strengthened it, but unstable snow can still be expected in many places where the warmth has not reached.
Considerable danger (level 3/5)
 in northern Westfjords, Tröllaskagi Peninsula and in the Eastfjords.

 

Best regards

Safetravel team