If you’ve ever conducted any research on Iceland’s weather, you’ll know that it can get seriously windy. And by seriously windy, we mean up to 40mph (65km/h). When you combine these wind speeds with the amount of sand and gravel, you can imagine the result. This combination is the perfect storm (see what we did there?) for damaging sandstorms.

Sandstorms are not only very dangerous to drive in, but they can also seriously damage your vehicle. Gravel insurance is always strongly suggested when tourists in Iceland rent a car because it can save you a great deal of money.

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland and you intend to hire a car to drive around and see the many fantastic sites, it’s important that you know how to avoid sandstorms, and what you should do in the event that you encounter one. 

Avoiding Sandstorms

The most effective way to stay safe is to avoid driving when there is a possible sandstorm. Any time you plan to travel in Iceland you should check the weather forecast, as sandstorms are not the only issues that can arise in Iceland. There are plenty of frightening stories about tourists who got caught driving in a sandstorm and had to be rescued, were injured and experienced a great deal of damage to their car.

Always pay attention to weather warnings and check them yourself. You can stay up to date on any weather warnings in Iceland by checking sites like https://en.vedur.is/. It’s worth noting that the worst months for sand and ash storms are from February through April, so if you’re really concerned about this you can avoid visiting Iceland during these times altogether.

If you discover that a sandstorm could be heading to the area of Iceland you’re visiting, the best thing to do is to get off the road and find somewhere to take shelter. Sandstorms can vary in severity but it’s always best to play it safe and avoid them if possible.

What to do if you encounter a sandstorm in Iceland

If a sandstorm takes you by surprise when you’re driving around Iceland enjoying the scenery, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your safety.

-Pull over to the side of the road. Visibility can be extremely low during a sandstorm in Iceland so it’s best to get off the road and stop driving to avoid a collision.
-Turn on your headlights and hazards so that anyone else caught in the storm can see you clearly and avoid hitting you.
-Close your air vents and switch to recycled air to avoid debris entering your car through the vents.

It’s always a good idea to keep extra water, snacks and blankets in the car. It’s unlikely you will be stuck on the side of the road for an extended period of time, but it’s best to be prepared and have items that will keep you comfortable during the wait.