ArticleA Streaming Service
People usually talk about the weather when they either don't know each other well, or have no real interest in each other. Sometimes, they do so when they are bored. There are exceptions, of course - namely, those whose livelihood depends on the weather (such as farmers, sailors, tennis players…). Surprisingly, wonder-hunters would also occasionally find themselves in the category of “exceptions” - in particular, those of them who happen to travel in Iceland.
Iceland is a remarkable geographico-linguistic phenomenon. There aren't that many countries with “talking names” in the world, and most of such names are descriptive and self-explanatory (Ecuador, Netherlands, New Zealand…). Argentina, renowned for its silver and some other precious metals, is another member of the same exclusive club. A few names might seem meaningless unless you know the story behind them - like an explorer being explained how to get to a nearby village and, eventually, naming the whole area after what he took to be the village's name ("kanata"); another such example involves Spanish conquistadors who found a land abounding in canals, just like Venice they were quite familiar with. So, they didn't think twice before calling that land “Little Venice” - in their language, it sounded like “Venezuela”. While the above examples and interesting and informative, there is nothing unusual about them - unlike about the countries whose names aren't just slightly misleading but the direct opposites of what the countries actually are! There are exactly two such countries in the world, the second one being Greenland.
The name “Greenland” must be an example of Eric the Red's very particular sense of humor (an alternative explanation suggests that he chose an appealing name in order to attract settlers to the newly-discovered territory). Yet, Iceland was obviously named by someone who had never been there - unless you believe that the namer stumbled upon the only fjord in the whole area that actually contained an iceberg or two. After all, it's not that illogical to presume that ice fields would dominate a country located not far from the Arctic Circle - and they certainly would…but for a very particular streaming service!
The Gulf Stream, kissing the western and southern coast of Iceland, wreaks absolute havoc with climatologists and…travelers. Rather than creating a little nook of summer surrounded by a wintry desert, the Stream throws everything into the mix resulting in “frequent changes in weather, and storminess”. In other words, while in Iceland, one might expect to experience all four seasons within several hours, the “summer” being not exactly hot, and the “winter” being not exactly freezing. Such a combination usually implies cloudy skies and a lot of rain - and that brings me back to wonder-hunters' keen interest in the local weather.
Several Icelandic phenomena might vie for the title of “Iceland's most important wonder”, one of them owing its existence to the above-mentioned Arctic Circle “just around the corner”. Aurora Borealis is what draws between one and two million tourists to Iceland between September and April - and the Northern Lights aren't exactly visible when the conditions are like that
So, to actually see the Lights, one needs a bit of luck and a lot of patience - and the weather forecast is crucial for one's viewing plans. That's why “visibility” is the hottest part of every weather site or newspaper devoted to Iceland - and some people actually book their return flights depending on the “visibility schedule”…