Should you be worried about sandstorms in Iceland?
Team Total Iceland keeps getting inquiries about possible hardships and dangers of driving in the South of Iceland. Seems sandstorms and horrible car rental fines are holding someone back. Should it?
We suspect local car rental agencies did not think matters through a couple of years back when after the Eyjafjallajokul volcano huge storms of sand, dust and ash became almost the norm. Car rental agencies rushed to add all kinds of expensive insurance on top of expensive rental prices and even advising visitors NOT to drive the southern coast.
Now, one needs but lightly check travel review sites to see that quite a number now fear driving due to sandstorms that could hike the price of your trip considerably. After all the force of some such storms could certainly strip any car of any paint and then some.
To be clear there is always a possibility for sandstorms in certain areas in Iceland and first and foremost while one is driving over the sand fields in the South. This includes areas like Landeyjarsandur, Meðalsandur, Leirur, Nupsvotn, Myrdalssandur, Skeidararsandur and Myrar to name but few.
For the uninitiated it means, give or take, the stretch of road from Hvolsvollur town all the way to the town of Hofn. Quite a distance actually. But in reality sandstorms mostly wreak havoc on Myrdalssandur from town of Vik to the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
While most of the free flowing ash from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano, which tripled the amount of dust in the air, is far gone by now the car rental agencies have still not lifted their warnings and recommendations for a special ash and sand insurance. Naturally since these are excellent cash cows.
But there is no need to worry about driving the South. The trick is to gather weather information beforehand. This can be done simply by ringing up the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration and asking about possible sand storms on the way. Better yet, save the phone call and check this frequently updated map. That map along with the local weather report will ease your fears about driving along the South coast. Worst case scenario is to turn back immediately should you find yourself suddenly driving into a storm. Also keep in mind storms are more likely in springtime and autumn than at other times in general.
But the danger of this is sadly blown out of all proportions. Team Total Iceland has driven this route repeatedly for years and years and apart from the months following the Eyjafjallajokull volcano 2010 only once driven right into a lightweight storm. Not a scratch on the car.