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02.03.2015

Heavy weather so far this year

‘These winds have been prevalent for so long that the sea never gets a chance to settle,’ said Lundey NS’s skipper Arnthór Hjörleifsson when we spoke to him last week and he commented sourly on the westerly and south-westerly winds that have made this winter such a hard one for everyone. 

Fishermen are more at the mercy of the weather than most and the weather has to be genuinely bad for a good while before they start to complain. But Arnthór Hjörleifsson and his colleagues have seen more than enough of the endless storms that have plagued all fishing grounds around Iceland since the New Year began.

We spoke to Vedurvaktin meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson to give us an overview of this year’s weather so far and to compare it with previous years. He told us that he had examined records for wind strength and direction for comparison purposes, using data from Gardsskagi going back to 1995 to 18th February this year. Gardsskagi was chosen as it lies on the coast with no shelter from mountains in any direction.

‘I collated weather data back to the beginning of last December. There were a few quiet days around Christmas so December was not an unusual month for weather. That doesn’t apply to the period from 1st January to 18th February. The results are that these first fifty days of the year have been some of the stormiest since 1995 with an average wind speed of more than 10 m/sec. This is a high average wind speed and over the period since 1995, only 2008 comes close,’ Einar Sveinbjörnsson said, adding that he set a threshold wind speed at 8 m/sec, reckoning that anything over 8 m/sec is considered windy while days with lower wind speeds are categorised as ‘good’ days.

‘Comparisons show that 78% of those 50 days are windy ones, according to the threshold wind speed, against an average of 55-60% over the entire reference period. What is unmistakeable is the overwhelmingly prevalent southerly and south-westerly wind direction. The winter of 2000 is still talked about as a winter of endless westerly and south-westerly winds, but those winds were noticeably less strong, according to the data from Gardsskagi.’

He said that what has also been noticeable about this year’s weather is how short the distances have been between depressions. These have also been rather fast-moving and steep, with all the turmoil that can cause. There are few days when the wind speed has been under 8m/sec’ only 20th, 28th and 31st January, as well as 1st, 3rd and 13th February, while 10th January stands out as the only properly mild day since New Year.

 

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