It’s a scary prospect when the weather alert gets bumped up to red, the worst. It’s a bit like reaching DEFCON 1.
Schools were closed, Tenerife’s emergency extreme weather plans were put into operation and people were advised to stay indoors- preferably in an underground bunker if you had one (actually I just made the bunker bit up).
During the afternoon reports came in of winds reaching up to 170 kmh battering La Palma. The storm was even given a name, Xynthia. And we all know it’s not a good sign when a storm is given a name. It means she’s a mean mother who really means business.
Discussions on various forums and even weather sites were divided. The pessimists (some might say realists) were predicting a bad one; the optimists were saying it was just going to miss us and the ostriches were singing ‘La La La’ and quoting weather forecasts which said that it was going to be sunny and calm so you could head to the beach and grab your usual sun lounger next to Elvis, Jim Morrison, Bruce Lee and newcomer Michael Jackson.
The good news as far as we were concerned was that the worst weather alerts were for altitude and the west, south and east coasts. On the Spanish Met Office map the north remained a tranquil green (normal weather conditions).
So what actually happened?
We woke up on Saturday morning to read tweets and comments on the internet that reported the storm had missed us – wrong, wrong and double wrong.
What happened was that it missed all the coastal areas which had been under ‘orange alert’ and hit us with the force of a…well, a hurricane. In short, Xynthia got medieval on our arses.
Andy and I spent most of the night scared shitless as the wind howled like a banshee and herds of rhinoceroses stampeded across the roof. It was also stiflingly hot and as bright as day, so we could see the shadows of huge branches relocating to other parts of the garden through the bedroom window.
Needless to say sleep was out of the question as we spent most of the night wondering what part of Puerto de la Cruz the house would be in when we woke up in the morning (if we woke up). That’s the third serious storm we’ve experienced since we moved here and it sounded like the worst.
As it happened, damage was remarkably limited. The chimney had gone, but that goes if someone farts on the golf course next door, and there were quite a few deadwood branches scattered around the garden (good firewood).
By Saturday morning everything was tranquil again and the day remained as still as the grave. This morning the sun is shining, the sea is an incredible shade of blue and I’ve been sweating like a pig fixing the chimney in temperatures that must be in the upper 20s. That’s Tenerife for you.
The web has been full of people due to come on holiday, panicking after reading reports about what’s being called ‘the winter of storms’ in Tenerife and the Canary Islands. If you’re one of them, don’t worry. Here’s another little fact for you.
As well as having more inclement weather than normal, the winter on Tenerife has also been warmer than usual. Tenerife had its hottest January in nearly 70 years.
And anyway, the hoopoe sang this morning, so spring is definitely around the corner.