Once upon a time we’d have welcomed news of a heatwave with cheers if said heatwave coincided with holiday plans.
Being sun-starved Brits we wanted it hot; the hotter the better.
After ten years of living in a sub-tropical climate our views have changed quite a bit. Now we know what high numbers on the thermometer actually mean. There are times when it can just be too hot.
August is scorching on Tenerife. Daytime temperatures in south coast resorts like Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje are normally higher than north coast ones like Puerto de la Cruz. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s relative; one’s hot, one’s hotter. When you live in the north you don’t tend to look south with envious eyes at that distinction. You lie in bed at night, sweating and thinking ‘thank goodness I’m not down there.’
You can’t escape into the hills as the chances are it’s even more unbearable. A couple of years ago, staying in Santiago del Teide over a hot summer weekend, we hardly got a wink of sleep because the heat never let up.
This week, there has been an orange level weather alert for high temperatures across Tenerife. Weather alerts aren’t good things. They mean weather that can hurt you is coming. In this case a heatwave with temperatures of up to 38C.
Last year a couple of walkers on Gran Canaria died from heat exhaustion after walking in orange alert temperatures. When we say it can be too hot, it’s no exaggeration.
But when you live in a country where the weather taunts and teases you, it’s easy to get excited by sky-high sounding temperatures. Before we moved to Tenerife we’d have rubbed our hands at the thought of 38C, not actually realising that being outside in 100F isn’t a lot of fun and sunbathing in it is a non-starter.
In those days we would have discarded any potential holiday destination where the average temperatures didn’t rise way above 70F.
However, there were three things we didn’t appreciate. Firsty, temperatures shown in forecasts are shade temperatures not what it feels like in full sunshine. Secondly, 70F (20C) is a very pleasant temperature for sunbathing. Finally, it is only an average. The reality is often significantly warmer.
We know that now as we read weather reports telling us that the weather is 20C at the same time as we squeeze into the shade of an umbrella to escape scorching heat that tells us otherwise.
The mainland Spanish, who are used to even hotter August temperatures, treat time on Tenerife’s beaches in summer differently than Northern Europeans. You’ll rarely find a Spanish family on the beach without a protective umbrella to retreat below when the heat sizzles the skin. They know what ‘too hot’ means. And now so do we. We now know from experience that 38C is not good.
Ten years of living on Tenerife has taught us that we don’t need 30C+. When we see average temps of 24/25C (75/77F in the shade) we think ‘that’ll do very nicely’ because we know exactly what that means – almost perfect weather. Which is what Tenerife basks in for most of the year.
Category : about tenerife
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