Weather: Iceland

It may not quite live up to its name, but Iceland is indeed a chilly place. Reykjavik is the world's northernmost capital (aside from Nuuk, Greenland), and it may also be the one with the coldest summers: in July, the average highs stay below 14°C/57°F. Warm ocean currents and the most favoured track of North Atlantic storm systems both run close to Iceland. This helps keep the island very windy and fairly cloudy year round; you may find yourself waiting a long while to see clear skies over Iceland. Summer is somewhat drier than winter, with showers or spells of light rain once or twice a week. The volcanic desert just north of the Vatnajokull icecap gets less than half the precipitation of Reykjavik. None of the island gets very warm: only parts of the northeast rise above 20°C/68°F with any regularity. The mildest, brightest conditions are often on the north coast, downstream of the prevailing south winds that climb and descend the central highlands. Temperature changes are driven less by day and night effects than by the regular passage of fronts, so a mild evening may be followed by a chilly, damp day. Travel beyond Reykjavik is a challenge in winter, as snowstorms may close the road that rings the island. Most of Iceland is snow-covered from about November to April; a few winter rains eat away at the snowpack over Reykjavik and points south and east. At any time of year, a period of southeast winds may replace the usually crystalline air with hazier skies, courtesy of the British Isles and the Continent.