I’ve just read a comment which said “so not really that hot then?” when advised temperatures at the coast in the north of Tenerife would be between mid and upper 20sC in August.
Hands up who knows exactly what a weather forecast of 25C actually means in real terms?
I’ll stick mine up first. Until we moved to Tenerife and starting experiencing these sort of temperatures over a prolonged period, I didn’t appreciate at all what 25C meant.
I’m writing this from a hilltop in Portugal, a country we hadn’t visited until a couple of years ago because when we were looking for a hot break from Britain, weather charts showing a May/June average of 68F just didn’t sound hot enough. A couple of days ago, by the time we completed the 1.5km walk into the nearest village we’d almost expired. The temperature was in the mid 20sC. All those years ago we got it wrong simply because we didn’t understand what weather readings actually meant.
Instead, year after year in June we plumped for a Greek Island where the average weather was around 78F (25C), a figure which sounded far more attractive to us sunseekers.
The Greek sun is fierce, it feels far more fierce than the Canary Islands’ sun. That might sound strange, but having recently spent three weeks under it on Crete, when on paper temperatures were more or less on a par, I stand by that claim. The sun sits higher in the sky for longer, meaning shade is a rarity. On our first visit to a Greek Island, Zakynthos, one May many moons ago, we set a 15min limit on sunbathing on any one side. We rarely lasted 5mins before having to turn to give relief to searing flesh. Yet in the shade it was goosepimple-raising cool. On our recent visit we walked through the Samaria Gorge, thankfully plenty of shade, to arrive at lunchtime in a coastal village. By mid afternoon everyone else who’d walked through the gorge arrived in the same village. As the only ferry didn’t depart till 5.30pm, most people headed for the beach. By the time there was still an hour before the ferry left, most had fled the beach and were desperately seeking shade, us included. Covered tavernas were packed out, people hugged the shadows provided by small trucks, others huddled in the flimsy shade provided by oleander bushes. You don’t see that sort of behaviour in the Canaries. And this was only early May.
Last year circumstance deposited us in Madrid in July. It was blisteringly hot. So hot that bars and restaurants had sprinkler systems set up inside umbrellas, spraying customers with a fine mist in an attempt to cool them down. Even stepping outside our air-conditioned hotel at 11pm was like stepping into a sauna. It wasn’t pleasant.
But what does all these other places have to do with temperatures on Tenerife?
25C is a perfect temperature, that’s what.
In summer months I sit sweltering in my house, between Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava, hoping the machine which keeps my laptop cool enough to continue working is up to the job. Sometimes it isn’t and the laptop shuts itself down, gasping. At night we kick off the one sheet, dreaming (whilst awake) of the months when the temperature drops enough to make the bed cosy again. Manual work is exhausting and draining, and anything to do with going on to the roof to carry out repairs is feared.
It’s the reality of living somewhere summer temperatures are between 25C and 30C.
Clearly there’s a massive difference between living and working in those sort of temperatures than being on holiday and simply sunbathing and soaking them up. Which is why the mainland Spanish in their thousands descend on Puerto de la Cruz. Historically the town is one of the top summer destinations for Spanish who escape the oppressive heat of the mainland (see the bit about Madrid) for the ‘perfect climate’ of the Canaries. Ironically at the same time as thousands of British holidaymakers head to Spain.
Anyone who considers 25-30C as being not too hot, is giving away they have no idea what 25-30C really feels like.
Partly this is because of people ‘bigging up’ temperatures, which can affect perceptions and distort the reality of the weather on Tenerife. On a regular basis the Spanish Met Office releases information about the hottest, wettest, windiest etc. places in the Canary Islands during particular months, seasons. Last year their records showed temperatures for August as being in the high 20s with occasional heatwaves pushing them to mid 30sC, resulting in weather alerts being raised.
Think about this piece of information – the authorities believe temperatures of above 31C to be potentially dangerous. And they are right. People have died because they ignored hot weather alerts.
In a nutshell, 30C is too hot, but 25/26C is a nice hot… a perfect temperature.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+