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Wild Weather In Tenerife -
Know The Best Time To Travel



While the weather in Tenerife is terrific for most of the year, you still need to be aware of possible weather hazards that may coincide with your arrival.

These weather hazards do not cover the whole island of Tenerife so don't be too alarmed. Just be aware that they exist. It's possible that you can avoid these weather events and have a hassle free Tenerife holiday under sunny skies.




There are three main meteorological hazards in Tenerife:

town of Taganana

  1. blowing dust (February and March)


  2. bushfires (July and August)


  3. floods (December to March) - although this doesn't occur every year nor does it occur everywhere across Tenerife




Topics covered on this page



There are three interesting facts about the island of Tenerife:

  1. Tenerife is the largest of all the Canary Island group which is located about 210km west from the northern coast of Africa.

  2. Tenerife has its own claim to fame since it's the location of the Northern Hemisphere's highest volcano named "El Teide". This shouldn't alarm you since El Teide is dormant.

  3. El Teide is frequently covered in snow in the winter. So in less than two hours you could be sunning yourself on the beach and then find yourself playing in the snow.





beautiful beach on Tenerife

Dust storms in Tenerife are quite common

Dust storm weather in Tenerife normally hits in three waves. The first and weakest wave of dust storms occur during the summer months (June - August).

These dust storms don't occur at sea-level but are carried across Tenerife above the clouds. Normally the cloud bases sit at an altitude of 1350 metres in the summer. So if you're planning to travel up into the higher parts of the mountains you must be aware of the dusty conditions at this time of year.

The second wave of dust storms occur at sea-level in late autumn (October - November). However, December does get some dust as well. These dust storms affect Tenerife 2-4 times every year during these months and tend to last around 2-5 days. The hazy dusty weather in Tenerife during the second wave of dust storms is far more obvious than it is in summer dust storms.

The final, and potentially the most severe dust storm weather in Tenerife, also occurs at sea-level throughout late winter and the early spring months (February - March). In these particular dust storms, which are accompanied by strong south-easterly winds, the visibility is sometimes reduced to less than 200 metres.

These severe dust storms affect Tenerife between 2 to 7 times per year, and each one can last from 2 to 22 days.


Below is a satellite image (taken on the 2nd April 2008) showing dust sweeping in off the Sahara Desert towards the Canary Islands.



Photo courtesy of NOAA/NASA.


You can view more images at: http://www.osei.noaa.gov/

If you hope to avoid the dust storms in February and March, you should either try and stay in accommodation located on the western side of the island, or travel a little inland up in the mountains around 1000 metres above sea-level.

An unusual dust storm affected most of the Canary Islands between the 5th and 10th January 1999. Not only was there thick dust, but it was followed by 'blood rain'.

The reason why it's called 'blood rain' is because the dust resembles the colour of blood when it becomes mixed up with the rain. No rain was officially reported in Tenerife but other Canary Islands got significant rainfall.

Blood rain is quite common in south eastern parts of mainland Spain and the western Mediterranean.




Want more information about the weather in Tenerife, then take a look at table below.




Climatological information for Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Month Rainfall (mm) Temperature Likelihood of dust storms
Minimum (°C)Maximum (°C)
January
36.7
15.1
20.8
Does occur, more likely at end of this month.
February
34.3
15.0
21.0
Worst time for severe dust storms.
March
24.2
15.5
21.8
Worst time for severe dust storms.
April
15.5
16.0
22.2
Possible in the early part of this month, after that. No
May
3.8
17.3
23.7
Unlikely to occur during this month.
June
1.2
18.8
25.5
Very weak dust storms. Hazy at times.
July
0.0
20.6
28.5
Very weak dust storms. Hazy at times.
August
0.5
21.2
28.9
Very weak dust storms. Hazy at times.
September
8.7
21.0
27.8
Unlikely to occur in this month.
October
18.2
19.8
26.0
Only weak dust storms if any.
November
38.4
17.9
23.6
Only weak dust storms if any.
December
51.8
15.9
21.6
Can occur but dust storms aren't common.



Beware of ozone pollution in Tenerife

A number of studies have shown that Tenerife and the surrounding Canary Islands are subject to light to moderate levels of ozone pollution (from late spring through to late summer). This ozone doesn't originate from this area but is blown in by the winds coming from industrial areas in western Europe.

The highest levels of ozone are reached between midnight and 5am during the months of March, May to August. During the day, the ozone is blown out to sea and returns again later at night. If you happen to suffer from asthma then you definitely need to take your asthma medication with you if you travel to Tenerife during these months. This nightime ozone tends to reach a maximum in low lying areas like valleys. These ozone events may also coincide with the arrival of the most severe dust storms in March. So please use your own discretion if you plan to travel in these months.

What you may find surprising is that a large number of people living in Tenerife suffer from asthma. In fact, the Canary Islands is known to have the highest incidence of asthma out of any location in Europe.





Bush fire weather in Tenerife

Bush fires occur quite frequently during the summer months but aren't normally severe. However, back in August 2007, two massive fires occurred on Tenerife and Gran Canaria which led to around 13,000 people being evacuated from their homes. The Tenerife fire was deliberately lit by a disgruntled Park Ranger.

When a bush fire hits, the local weather patterns can be thrown into chaos because a fire produces its own wind.

Most fires are located in mountainous terrain so if you're an avid bushwalker then please think about this when you're planning your trip.

Most tourist resorts are located near the sea. For this reason they are reasonably well protected from any ravages of fire. Even in the most recent fires back in August 2007, holiday makers didn't stop flying into Tenerife! Nor should you.

Remember that most of these fires aren't widespread so you can always go somewhere on the island that is safe.





Flooding in Tenerife

On the 2nd February 2010, widespread flooding across Tenerife caused chaos in the streets. Thankfully, the rainy weather in Tenerife has now almost finished. Raw footage of the flood event is shown below:





Flooding due to severe weather in Tenerife is normally due to a deepening low pressure system situated just west of the Canary Islands in the winter and early spring. These low pressure systems can lead to the formation of severe thunderstorms. It's these thunderstorms that produce torrential rain which result in flash flooding and landslides.

On the 31st March 2002, a severe thunderstorm dumped around 150mm of rain over parts of Tenerife. Tenerife rarely has this much rain in one hit. The heavy rain fell in just 2 hours which lead to flash-flooding. Six people died due to these floods.

Another episode of heavy rain fell in Tenerife on the 3rd March 2005. In 24 hours, Santa Cruz de Tenerife received 53mm of rain. This was enough to lead to more flash floods.





Do hurricanes affect Tenerife?

The short answer to this is no. But occasional low pressure systems border on becoming hurricanes. This occurred on the 28th and 29th November 2005.

This tropical storm was named 'Delta' and it would have been named a hurricane but it lost intensity before it passed by the Canary Islands. This cyclonic storm passed 90 nautical miles to the north of the Canary Islands and produced winds averaging 110 km/hr.

The top wind speed recorded at sea-level at Tenerife was 147 km/hr. However, at the meteorological station at Izaña, which is situated at 2367 metres above-sea-level, the wind gusted to 248 km/hr.

Needless to say, Tenerife suffered significant damage with uprooted trees and landslides. Most of the damage was caused by the strong winds since most of Tenerife received very little rain during this time!





Other types of severe weather in Tenerife

Tenerife does get the occasional hailstorm but these are not frequent. Waterspouts do form off the coast as well since the ocean temperature is warm all-year-round.

You probably think by now that the weather in Tenerife is shocking since it seems to get it's fair share of annoying weather!

The weather in Tenerife is not that bad. It certainly shouldn't prevent you from travelling here any time of year, except maybe if there's a severe dust storm. The sole purpose of this website is to provide you with possible weather hazards that you may encounter on your trip. It's more likely that the weather in Tenerife will be absolutely beautiful during your holiday.

I mean since millions of tourists visit Tenerife each year, they wouldn't keep coming back if the weather in Tenerife was terrible.



Protect your skin

You also need to make sure that you bring some sunscreen with you since the sun's rays are quite strong all year-round given Tenerife's latitude. It may feel cool in the breeze on the beach but when you're in agony at night due to severe sunburn, you'll be wishing you had protected your skin.

Also, if you're travelling up into the mountains remember that the sun's rays become even more intense irrespective of whether it's summer or winter. You don't need to have high daytime temperatures before you become sunburnt.





References

  1. Viana M, Querol X, Alastuey A, Cuevas E and Rodríguez S. Influence of African dust on the levels of atmospheric particulates in the Canary Islands air quality network. Atmospheric Environment. 2002;36(38):5861-5875.


  2. Hernandez F, Karlsson L and Hernandez-Armas J. Impact of the tropical storm Delta on the gross alpha, gross beta, 90Sr, 210Pb, 7Be, 40K and 137Cs activities measured in atmospheric aerosol and water samples collected in Tenerife (Canary Islands). Atmospheric Environment. 2007;41(23):2940-4948.


  3. Constantino Criado and Pedro Dorta. An unusual 'blood rain' over the Canary Islands (Spain). The storm of January 1999. Journal of Arid Environments. 2003;55(4):765-783.


  4. Serdà GJ, Navarro PC, Fernández OA, Pérez PM, Martín JB, Santana FA, De Castro FR and Antó Boqué JM. High Prevalence of Asthma Symptoms in the Canary Islands: Climate Influence? Journal of Asthma. 2005;42(6):507-511.


  5. Rodríguez S, Torres C, Guerra J and Cuevas E. Transport pathways of ozone to marine and free-troposphere sites in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Atmospheric Environment. 2004;38(28):4733-4747.


  6. Aboal JR, Jiménez MS, Morales D and Gil P. Effects of thinning on throughfall in Canary Islands pine forest - the roll of fog. Journal of Hydrology. 2000;238(3-4):218-230.



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