Flash flooding in the Canaries

  • Torrential rain across the Canary Islands earlier this week. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

    Chris Hemsworth was forced to abandon filming of his latest film. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire/Press Association Images

  • Flash flooding in the Canaries
    05.12.2013 15:28

    The Canary Islands are an archipelago situated off the west coast of Africa, just 28 degrees north of the equator. It is for this reason that many sun-worshippers flock to these islands during the winter months in the hope of finding some warm and sunny weather. Even at the coolest time of year (January), average daily maximum temperatures usually exceed 20C, so it provides the perfect holiday hotspot during the months when much of the Mediterranean is comparatively chilly and wet.

    Despite the fact that December is, on average, the wettest month for the islands, it may come a surprise to hear that the Canaries have experienced some flash flooding over the past few days.

    Some impressive rainfall totals have been recorded at various locations across the archipelago. In the 24 hours running from Monday 2nd December at 0600 GMT, 195mm of rain fell at Valverde in Tenerife. Another staggering figure was a total of 57mm seen at La Palma’s airport in just six hours from 0600-1200 GMT on Monday. To put this into some perspective, the average monthly rainfall for the island of Tenerife is just 44mm in December and the annual average rainfall across the Canaries ranges from 100-300mm.

    The flash floods have been reported to have affected the filming of Chris Hemsworth’s latest movie blockbuster ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ in La Gomera. The torrential rain also sparked dangerous mudslides and falling rocks, which sadly killed five people on the neighbouring island of Tenerife. There have also been reports of power cuts and hundreds left homeless, following the chaotic events of Monday.

    A deep and slow-moving area of low pressure has been responsible for the unprecedented weather of recent days. Positioned out in the Atlantic, to the west of the Canary Islands and south of the Azores, moist and unstable air has led to bands of torrential showers which have predominantly affected the western Canary Islands.

    It should come as welcome news to anybody heading to the Canaries in the next few days that the area of low pressure causing the torrential showers is gradually clearing away to the west, with much warmer and drier air arriving from North Africa.

    By: John Lee