Weather on Tenerife, What Exactly is Calima?

Wed, November 17th, 2010 - By Jack Montgomery

Thirty plus degrees Celsius in November on Tenerife. It’s the sort of news that should have chilled-to-the-bone Brits frantically booking their escape from the dreich and dreary weather (if you’re not Scottish that means dismal, grey, drizzly etc).

Those sort of temperatures in winter must sound like paradise and yet on Tenerife this hotter than average weather brought more groans from residents than anything else. That’s because the high temperatures were due to a calima and calima comes with a price tag.

Calima is a hot, sand laden wind that blows in from the Northern Sahara on a semi regular basis. At best it hikes up the temperatures by a few degrees – nobody complains too much about that aspect – but at worst it batters the island with strong, hairdryer-hot winds that leave parts of Tenerife covered in a blanket of sand.
Apart from dumping half of the Sahara, it can play havoc with respiratory systems and leave eyes feeling dry and itchy. When calima is about you don’t go on walkabout on Tenerife. The heat can make hoofing it around Tenerife’s countryside feel like being on a French Foreign Legion route march and anyway it’s not a great idea to undertake activities that are likely to fill your lungs with sand.

When calima is at its worst visibility drops dramatically and the landscape is shrouded by an orange dust cloud. Thankfully most of the calimas this year haven’t been as serious as that. In fact many visitors probably haven’t even been aware that they’ve experienced calima.

Take this last one for example. The first signs we had in Puerto de la Cruz was that the slight breeze that kept us company on the terrace as we ate breakfast was warm. In November any breeze would normally be cool-ish (that’s Tenerife cool not UK cool – there’s quite a difference). It immediately identified it as coming from the Sahara. A quick check of Mount Teide revealed that it was partially obscured behind a haze and for the next few days (calima typically lasts about three days) the north coast enjoyed blue skies and summer hot temperatures, but with very little wind. The mountains that separate the north and south sides of Tenerife protect the north from the worst of calima’s gusty exuberance.

Because of the direction it arrives from, the southern side of Tenerife tends to take the brunt of the strongest winds and thickest sand clouds. However, on this occasion whilst some friends who live in the south of Tenerife near Guia de Isora told tales of strong winds and having their furniture covered with a film of sand, others visiting Playa de la Arena further south west said that there was little wind on the coast. Although they did add that it was just too hot to sunbathe for any length of time.

Too hot to sunbathe in November? Somehow I don’t think calima is one weather phenomenon on Tenerife that is going to cause too much fretting amongst visitors.

Posted : Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 9:00 am
Category : weather
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10 Responses to “Weather on Tenerife, What Exactly is Calima?”

  1. Gary Rosson says:

    I have to say that the calimas don’t normally bother me too much in normal day to day life. I have however occasionally walked during the milder ones and have to agree with your French Foreign Legion route march description. Walks that I normally cope with with no problem become a test of endurance.

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  3. […] of stable weather continued until Wednesday in the south of Tenerife when it was interrupted by a calima which bizarrely by-passed some of the eastern islands. In the north the long period of good weather […]

  4. […] crater. Temperature increase for a couple of days accompanied by windy weather…is that a calima on the […]

  5. […] the first day of summer. Temperatures reach 30C and above during July. However, unless there is a calima (a hot wind from the Sahara which can hike temperatures up to near 40C) the thermometer stays […]

  6. […] the week. This, combined with predicted high winds on Mount Teide on Thursday has us wondering if a calima is on the […]

  7. […] a hot and sunny week with little cloud about across Tenerife. The big talking point was the dense calima that rolled in towards the end of the week. This sand cloud normally affects the south and east […]

  8. […] sent temperatures soaring in parts of Tenerife – and it was already very hot before the hot calima arrived for its weekend in the Canary Islands. Whilst it might sound bliss to anyone sitting in […]

  9. […] surprises. Bearing this in mind, and the abundance of watering holes, it seemed a wise option on a calima fuelled, 30 degree Saturday […]

  10. John White says:

    Canaries experiencing La Calima at the moment. On Tenerife we woke up one morning to what I thought was just a hazy day but apparently Calima had arrived. We went up 1500m to visit a vineyard and the hot winds and temperatures were just incredible.

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