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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.