One of the most common questions we receive is “What is the weather like in the Canary Islands?” When escaping those chilly mornings – it is often a priority.
In many people’s minds, the best thing about the Canaries is the weather. Because of their latitudinal position coupled with Atlantic breeze, the island enjoy springlike weather all year round. It’s rarely too hot, and rarely too cold. For those that live in the Canaries full-time then acclimitisation takes place. When we first moved to Lanzarote in 2006, we found it amusing to see the locals wrapped up in their hooded coats, big jumpers, scarves, jeans and winter boots. We couldn’t comprehend how they could feel cold – even if it was New Year’s Eve. For the record, I was swanning about in a short skirt and strappy top – but that was to be my last. By the time Christmas 2007 rolled around, I was feeling the lower temperatures as much as the next man (woman, actually). I had turned into a wuss – huddled in my chunky jumpers and fluffy chunky boots. Let’s be honest – those 15 degree tempratures could hardly be described as cold but it all depends what you are used to.
The information below is intended as an overview, but do be aware that there are some differences between the islands too – as well as at different altitudes.
Calimas and Siroccos
One of the weather phenomena that caught us off guard was a “sirocco”. We were sat on our terrace enjoying after dinner drinks (well it would be rude not to) when suddenly it felt like someone had switched on a powerful hairdrier or space heater. But what is the difference between a calima and a sirocco?
A calima in the Canary Islands is a dust cloud blown over from the Sahara – coating everything in its path with a layer of sand. They also occur in the Uk from time to time. Remember coming out of your house of a morning and finding your car covered in dust? That is the effect of a calima. It is usually accompanied by a high wind, which enables the dust to travel long distances.
A sirocco is the extreme rise in temperature that occasionally accompanies a calima. That is what we first experienced in Lanzarote. It leaves you struggling to breathe normally and can be dangerous for those who suffer with breathing-related illnesses such as asthma. Our only advice is to close all your doors and windows and stay indoors until it passes. When we experienced them, we tried not to leave the house except for the more important tasks such as food shopping. We were living in a villa with a pool and were very grateful to be able to run out… take a quick dip… and run back indoors again. Keep your children and pets indoors too – if you can. Our three dogs all retreated to under the beds, where they could hide from it all.
Disclaimer: There seem to be various comments on the internet that suggest “calima” is just a Canarian word for “sirocco”. I took my definitions from a weather expert instead. Whichever is correct – try to stay out of the hot dusty winds if you can.
Rain in the Canary Islands
The more easterly islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura tend to get less rainfall than the westerly islands such as Gran Canaria. However, apart from the occasional rain storms, even the westerly islands don’t get as much rain as perhaps the UK or or Ireland does (the difference in greenery is testament to that).
Over the centuries, the Canarian people have learned to work with the weather and make the most of any moisture in order to grow their crops. For example, in Lanzarote’s La Geria – the vineyard owners have built “zocos”, which are horseshoe shaped shelters which protect from the wind while also capturing any airborne moisture.
If you arrive for your week in the sunny Islands and it is raining, don’t panic! It will soon pass.
Wind in the Canary Islands
The permanent breeze across the Canary islands has firmly placed them on the map as a destination for windsurfers, paragliders and any sporty folk that reply on the wind for fun.
Speak to local activity centres andagents who can take you to all the best places to enjoy whatever you seek.
Sunshine in the Canary Islands
Because of their springlike temperatures, the island are sometimes referred to as The Islands of Eternal Spring. Sunbathing is possible all year round and the hundreds of beaches are rarely empty 8although you can usually find somewhere secluded if you look). Winters are mild and summers, although sometimes scorching during August, are not really overbearing. The constant breeze makes being out in the sunshine a lot more pleasant.
Be careful though, the accompanying breeze, and even the cloud cover, can be very deceptive – meaning many peopple burn without realising until it is too late. Never leave your holiday accommodation without slapping on plenty of suncream.
When is the weather at its best in the Canary Islands?
The answer to this question will always be subjective. I personally love September. The temperatures are still in the high 20s / low 30s… but the wind drops slightly too. Many may find that July and August are simply perfect for sweating it out on the beach, whereas others may find that a bit too hot for them.
Although winter is comparatively mild in the Canaries, it makes a really pleasant change from the frosty mornings back home – making November to February a fantastic time to enjoy a little winter escape.
If you are looking for a more indepth look at the weather in Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria or any of the islands – take a look at Wesley’s Costas Online website. He has a whole section dedicated to Canary Islands weather. Definitely worth a read – click the image to visit.
Of course, as the name of the website suggests, the site covers a much wider area than the Canary Islands. Grab a cup of tea or a glass of something cheeky, and enjoy a good read.