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The Faroe Islands

Climate of the Faro Islands is a product of the warm North Atlantic Current and the cold East Icelandic Current and frequent passages of cyclones mostly coming from the southwest and west depending on the polar front.

Climate is characterized by mild winters and cool summers and quite humid and rainy weather with frequent formations of fog, especially in June, July and August.

At times, the high atmospheric pressure of the Azores periodically moves closer to the Faroe Islands ensuring stable summer weather with quite high temperatures for several weeks.

During winter, however, low pressures may go farther south of the islands than usually. This causes periods of surges of cold air from the north resulting in sunny winter weather for an extended period of time.

Temperature

Annual mean temperature in Tórshavn is 6.5°C. Temperatures in January and February are approx. 3.5°C. In July and August approx. 10.5°C. Annual mean temperature varies from place to place and is lowest near Vága Floghavn (6.0°C) and highest in Sandur on the island of Sandoy (7.0°C).

Although variations in temperature are generally small from year to year, temperatures occasionally rise above 20°C. Highest temperature ever measured was 26.3°C at Vága Floghavn in July 2003. In winter, temperatures may fall below freezing point. The lowest temperature ever measured was -12.3°C in March 2001 - also at Vága Floghavn.

Temperatures in Tórshavn are higher today than they were in 1873. This increase primarily took place during 1920-1940 and yet again since the 1980’s.

Annual mean temperature in Torshavn is 6.5°C. Photo John Cappelen.
Annual mean temperature since 1873 for weather stations in Denmark, the Faroe Islands and East Greenland. Since 1873, temperatures in Copenhagen and Torshavn have been increasing. Temperatures in East Greenland also increased until around 1940. After this time, a downward trend was observed until mid-1970’s when temperatures started rising again.

Precipitation and sun in the Faroe Islands

Average annual rainfall in Tórshavn for the normal period 1961-1990 is 1284 mm, most in autumn and least in summer.

The islands have large geographical variations in precipitation mainly due to the topography of the islands.

The southern islands by Akraberg Fyr receive 884 mm annually, at Mykines Fyr in west 823 mm annually, the northern islands (the area with most mountains) over 3,000 mm annually, and at Hvalvík nearly 3,300 mm annually. Estimates show that areas with highest precipitation receive approx. 4,000 mm annually.

It rains a lot in the Faroe Islands and the number of days of precipitation per year is as high as 300 in Hvalvík (in Tórshavn 273 days).

Hvalvík and Hellur have 100 days of precipitation above 10 mm. The greatest 24-hour rainfall was 182 mm measured in Hvalvík from 15-16 September 1982.

Precipitation in Torshavn has remained at a fairly stable level since the mid-1970’s.

Tórshavn has 840 hours of sunshine per year - mostly during May and June with an average of approx. 125 hours. Sometimes December has no sunshine at all. The largest number of sunshine in a calendar month was 232 hours measured both in May 1948 and in May 2000 - approx. 40% of the annual maximum possible.

The North Atlantic location of the islands combined with frequent passages of low pressures result in a high number of cloudy days (>80% cloud cover): 221 days in Tórshavn. In Tórshavn, only around two days per year are clear days (<20% cloud cover).

The number of hours of sunshine in Tórshavn has remained stable during the last 20 years with a slight upward trend seen in the latter part of the period.

One of the DMI's rain gauges on the Faroe Islands. Photo Jens Juncher Jensen.
Photo Sosialurin.

By John Cappelen

Edited by Carsten Ankjær Ludwigsen, translated by Marianne Brandt, kommunikation@dmi.dk