Typical November weather on Tenerife

Every year at the end of October we get asked a question I don’t really enjoy answering.

“We’ve booked to stay in (insert name of town/resort here) on Tenerife in November, do you think we’ll get sunny weather?”

I don’t enjoy answering because it’s one of the rare times of year I can’t confidently reply “don’t worry, it’ll most likely be fine.”

Puerto de la Cruz, Nov 2016
This is what people want – Puerto de la Cruz in November 2016.

November is a massively popular month for British visitors. It’s when the northern European season kicks in big time and swallows (folk who spend winter on Tenerife) arrive in their gulps (the collective name so I believe). It’s also the one month we advise friends and families to avoid if they’re looking for a week in the sunshine before the British winter wraps its icy fingers around them and doesn’t let go till spring.

Snow on Mount Teide, Nov 2013
Mount Teide will often look like this at some point in November.

Let’s cut to the chase right away. You get bad weather in the Canary Islands during November. It’s virtually unavoidable. Unless it’s a glitch year, the rains are going to come at some point. It’s not something visitors want to hear, but it can be a disaster for the island if they don’t come. The rains are often accompanied by high winds and rough seas. Weather alerts in November are simply a part of island life.

When the bad weather will hit, however, is the 64,000 dollar question (or whatever the modern equivalent of that is).

Monsoon at San Andres, Puerto de la Cruz 2011
At some point in November it could look like this scene in Puerto de la Cruz during San Andrés in 2011. Note that the folk under the brolly are in short sleeves.

Weather wise, it is one of the most unpredictable months in the Canary Islands. And yet, because of its popularity with British visitors, it is the month which has moulded many opinions of what the weather is like in certain locations. I’m talking mainly about the north, when change of season rain falls it usually affects the northern parts of the Canary Islands most. If November is anyone’s only experience of the island, then it’s not an experience which accurately reflects what the weather is mostly like throughout the year. But bad weather isn’t exclusive to northern parts.

Los Cristianos Nov 2016
Dull, dreary and cool in Los Cristianos in November 2016.

The first year we moved to Puerto de la Cruz it felt as though it rained for nearly the whole month. But it wasn’t just in Puerto. A friend on La Gomera rang as at one point, miserable that she had hardly been able to leave the house for weeks. That was the first and last November we experienced where the rain lasted for such a prolonged period.

Los Cristianos Nov 2014, the day before it had rained
A sunbathing day in Los Cristianos in 2014. The day before this, it rained.

Looking back at our weekly weather records on our Walking Tenerife website I can see in 2016 there were alerts for heavy rain across Tenerife during the first week in November and again in week commencing 14 November. 2015 seemed a bit less wild with only snow and calima, but we were in Germany for most of the month so couldn’t say for sure. 2014 was a bad one with orange level alerts for wind and rain during week commencing 17 November, raising to a rare red level alert the following week with 20ft waves and wind exceeding 100kph in places. We were in a small rural hotel in Vilaflor for that one, thankfully above the storm we watched rolling in across the south coast. The drive home to the north the following day was a horror though.

Above the storm clouds, Vilaflor, Nov 2014
From Vilaflor above the clouds watching a red alert level storm rolling in on the south coast.

The bad news is there’s no place on the island where you can escape the November glitch when it comes. These are weather fronts which generally affect all of the Canary Islands. I know there are those who erase all memories of it happening in some locations – being caught by surprise on an annual basis and telling visitors. “This is so unusual.”

The good news is that severely bad weather doesn’t usually last long, a couple of days is the norm. I’ve mentioned some weeks with alerts over the last couple of years. But outside of those weeks, and even during them, there was warm sunshine. However, there can also be showers, calima and snow on Teide is virtually a given at some point. It’s just that sort of a month.

Teide National Park, Nov 2014
A rare horrible day in Teide National Park. Nobody told this family there was a weather alert in place. We, unfortunately, had no choice as we were driving home after a couple of nights in Vilaflor.

So for over fourteen years we’ve been advising friends to not book a week’s holiday in November.

And in November 2014 we sheltered in a bus stop on the outskirts of La Paz as monsoon rain interrupted our walk into Puerto to meet up with four visiting friends. Later in the month we met up with other visiting friends, including two travel writing ones who were on the island to gather material for articles. We took them on one of our favourite walks in the west of the island. But the weather was so blah, this normally spectacular route was underwhelming.

Normally stunning views, Teno, November 2014
There are normally stupendous views from this point in Teno in the west. Not on this day in November 2014. Still warm enough for short sleeves though.

In 2015 we had a great time taking my sister and her partner on a tapas route in La Orotava. The weather wasn’t bad, just grey.

And this year my sister has just messaged me to say she’s booked nine days in Playa de la Arena from 14 November; smack bang in the bad weather danger period.

Sunny at Las Galletas, black inland, Nov 2014
Sometimes you get sun at the coast whilst inland it looks like the end of the world like this November shot from Las Galletas. We were there, of course, to meet up with visiting friends.

We advise them November can be dodgy, they ignore the advice.

As torrential rain has just battered La Palma and heavyish rain has fallen in some other islands, I’m hoping that was it for this year and my sister will get to enjoy warm, sunny weather along with everyone else who plays Russian roulette with the November weather in the Canary Islands.

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+

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