One of the greatest paradoxes of Icelandic discourse is the generalised aversion to any form of small talk, but an all-encompassing passion for the subject of weather. All clichéd tourist jokes aside, it really does change so rapidly and drastically (sometimes dangerously) that it can quickly put a room in a tizzy. Our meteorologists have a particularly tough gig on their hands too, given how inconsistent it is from one year to the next! The one that just ended was no different, providing the whole country with endless excitement.
We kicked off last winter with crazy snowstorms carrying over from 2011, resulting in dozens of grounded flights and general havoc in Reykjavík, a city thoroughly unprepared for snow clearing. However, this was no match for Ísafjörður, whose mass amounts of precipitation caused an avalanche warning to go into full effect, shutting down businesses and schools. The children of the Westfjords rejoiced.
The winter eventually petered out in an anti-climax and spring ushered in with classic showers. Things started getting interesting in May as the leftovers of that famous ash cloud rolled into the capital area just in time for allergy season, much to the dismay of asthmatics. Luckily, the ash blew away by the end of the month and gave way to remarkably clear skies, allowing the whole country to witness an extraordinary and rare astronomical event, the transit of Venus.
Starting in May and carrying on through June and July, there was much confusion about the island as the light season clocked in record hours of unobstructed sunshine—836.6 hours to be exact! While some rejoiced at the rare opportunity to wear nothing but hot-pant jorts and nipple tape (well, not really), the sun forced others to deal with real world problems: severe droughts caused farmers to yield low hay production for their livestock and a state of emergency was declared as the Northwest battled raging grass fires.
The north had it rough again in the autumn, as sudden, extreme weather knocked out power and killed thousands of sheep during the round-up season. (Let it be said though, they were on their way to the slaughterhouse at the time.) Meanwhile, as tourists and bands piled into Reykjavík at the beginning of November, winds over 28 metres per second raged through the streets, truly putting the air back in Airwaves! These bouts of bad weather caused much hubbub as people came up in arms against the Icelandic Met Office, claiming they hadn’t been warned. The latter rightfully responded that yes, they actually had.
Finally, the weather reporters got one clean break by accurately bearing the bad news that there would be no white Christmas in the capital. Despite a nice dusting to ring in the New Year, it’s back to grey glutch for now. Hang onto your hats; who knows what’s next!