Storms Batter the Canary Islands

Mon, March 4th, 2013 - By Andrea Montgomery

As I sit here typing, there’s a steady breeze outside keeping the orchid trees moving while the wild canaries balance, like circus trapeze artists, trying to pick insects off the leaves. The sky is pale blue with a smattering of white clouds and in the valley behind, the sun is creeping over the landscape. It’s all very different from the picture twelve hours ago when rain was lashing horizontally against the windows; debris was flying across the roofs and swirling into corners of the terrace in mini typhoons and the sea was a grey cauldron of turmoil.

 

storm clouds over Tenerife

 

Storm warnings were issued by the Spanish Meteorological Office on Friday 1st March that an Atlantic storm was on its way to Madeira and the Canary Islands, moving rapidly in from a front in the Atlantic which is sitting unusually low and is being rapidly followed by a second front. The BBC also picked up on the unusual Atlantic activity and reported on its website.

The islands of El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera took the first battering with high winds, heavy rain and waves up to 4 or 5 metres forecast. Yesterday La Palma’s weather warning was upped to a red alert for 120km (75mph) winds in the high grounds. With the island’s east coast taking the brunt of the impact and forcing the airport and ferry terminal to close, as I type, La Palma remains cut off from the rest of the islands with holidaymakers unable to arrive or leave. The bulk of the damage has been to crops, roads and streets caused by rock falls, flooding and fallen street lamps with no human casualties reported to date.

On La Gomera, a friend living on the edge of the Garajonay forest at 1000 metres above sea level has been without power and water since yesterday. With the airport and the port closed, La Gomera is also effectively cut off with people unable to leave the island. Schools have been given an unexpected addition to the half term holidays by remaining closed on every island except Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

 

 

On Tenerife the worst of the storm hit late on Sunday afternoon when high winds and heavy rain lashed the south, south west and eastern coasts and trapping hundreds of passengers on board a Fred Olsen ferry which had left Los Cristianos at 2pm to travel to La Palma for an excruciating 10 hours – a journey which normally takes two and a half hours. Unable to dock at La Palma, nor at La Gomera, the ferry returned to Tenerife but was unable to dock at Los Cristianos and passengers spent a truly sick ten hours on board before the vessel finally docked at half past midnight. Ferry passengers travelling between Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz were also stranded with hundreds spending the night at the ferry terminals.

 

 

Despite the high waves and rough seas, Los Cristianos resident  Colin Kirby reckons they got off quite lightly:

“The day started cloudy but calm with even a hint of sun but the cloud thickened late afternoon as the winds got up. In the evening the power flicked on and off as the rain lashed down but it was fairly quiet through the night. This morning there is light damage to awnings and some rubbish strewn around but even the Carnaval stage and the higher fair rides are standing firm.”

In El Medano where windy conditions are the default setting, resident Linda Wainwright reported on Sunday night: “It’s no exaggeration to say it resembles news reports I’ve seen of hurricanes.” This morning she reports:

“I walked for an hour along the sea front in El Médano this morning and was surprised to see so little damage. I expected more after seeing pictures last night online. I guess the council did a great job in clearing it up. Still windy and murky though.”

For the moment, the TF21 road between La Orotava and Teide National Park is closed due to the presence of ice and the TF12 in San Andrés, outside santa Cruz, is down to one lane due to landslides but the South airport is not reporting any cancellations as yet although the island remains on red alert for winds in high grounds, orange alert for winds across he island and yellow alert for heavy rain. The good news for anyone coming on holiday to Tenerife is that normal service is set to return on Thursday.

Posted : Monday, March 4th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Category : news
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2 Responses to “Storms Batter the Canary Islands”

  1. chris brown says:

    due to fly out friday is the weather any better

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