Don’t Believe What Anyone Says, This is a Tropical Storm on Tenerife

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, the chances are…

I’ve been reading with amazement in EL Dia newspaper that the winds accompanying the storm that is sweeping across the Canary Islands have not been as bad as expected.

I’ve just read comments on a forum which more or less amounted to saying it was a lot of fuss about nothing.

I’ve also read comments from people in the UK on the same forum asking if people on Tenerife wanted to swap places with them as its minus plus and snowing there.

And I’ve heard people saying they look forward to these storms.

This took out some roof tiles on its way down

Me, I’m just thankful that we seem to have survived one of the most terrifying nights of my life.  All night we’ve lain in bed as the wind roared violently, wondering what the crashes and bangs were as unseen things scraped across the roof

We’ve just been able to have a quick tour of the devastation outside our door after racing for cover twice when the high winds picked up again after a lull.

Huge branches litter our terrace. Tiles have gone from the roof. But it’s not as bad as next door. As well as a tree down they’ve lost lots of tiles from their roof. Worst of all is the golf course. It is completely devastated. There’s a huge tree upended. Tables and chairs are scattered everywhere and the driving range is a disaster zone. I haven’t been able to see how bad the banana plantation behind us has been affected.

Damage on the golf course - it was much worse beyond the tree

This has felt as bad, if not worse than tropical storm Delta five years ago and the devastation around me seems to confirm that.

So no, it wasn’t much ado about nothing – check Canarian TV and you’ll see that.

And no, I really don’t look forward to these storms and I reckon the farmers and local business people who are now taking stock of the damage feel the same.

But most of all would I swap last night for minus degrees weather and snow? Damn right I would…in the blink of an eye.

  1. Jacqui O says:

    My Dad was on the Tweltfh floor of Yomely last night, he called this morning to say it was quite scary.

  2. […] are still coming in, but you can get a taste of what we are experiencing at our Real Tenerife and Under the Volcano […]

  3. Aeon says:

    I drove through la orotava a couple of hours ago,and it seems to have taken quite some damage..i live a couple of kilometers from you,and even though a few trees weny down here its not as severe over here..i wonder why?

    • dragojac says:

      The government minister for security commented that the storm had behaved in a very strange way, affecteing areas very differently; wind some place, rain others. It looks as though various aspects have been very localised. We walked out in it yesterday (after th worst was past clearly) and even over a short distance there were sections where it was blowing a gale and other where it was quite calm. Very strange indeed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, the chances are…”
    It’s a politician ?

    Seriously though, it does sound like you had a bit of a breeze up there. Hope there’s not too much damage. Down south we must have escaped the hurricane and just had tons of rain, thunder and lightening. Baz has spent last couple of days hiding under our bed !


    • dragojac says:


      Could have been worse R. Really very, very scary winds at 120kmh peaking at 140kmh and not been able to make repairs yet as wind carried on until last night and now it’s raining – I’m just glad it’s over.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, what was expected was winds of up to 170 km/hour!! Not surprising they said there wasn’t as much as what was expected…although granted it’s been a pretty bad storm in specific places (your back yard??) as you have noticed. Delta was far worse, it hit half the island really badly (I think the North didn’t suffer as much as other areas) and left most of the island with no electricity for days.

    • dragojac says:

      The 170 kmh was forecast for high areas and in fact top speeds up there registered 190kmh. For the coastal areas AEMet warned it could be up to 130km and in fact it reached 145kmh, so in the end both turned out to be quite higher than warned. But it was localised rather than across the whole island which is why there are such extremes of experience and also why it wasn’t as bad as Delta…except for maybe the places which experienced the worst – Puerto and Los Relaejos.

      The electricity situation with Delta was compounded by the fact that the pylons were almost falling down at that time and were supposed to have been replaced something like 10-15 years previously. Mind you seven went down this time as well.

  6. islandmomma Life on a Small Island and Beyond says:

    Seems like, as with much in life, it’s a matter of perspective and of personal experience too. If you live near trees these high winds will always have more potential for harm (one fell over my car in one), and the as the winds toss them and whistle through them it will sound a hell of a lot worse too, than, say, for me, living in a modern apartment block, where the only dangers really were for the stupid people who didn’t wind in their toldos.

    From what I’ve seen on tv, winds, actually, reached up to 190 kph on the mountain tops. People don’t take notice of the wording of these alerts, they hear 170 kph and think it applies to where they live. No doubt this is partly because, as we know from Chinese whispers, stories change in the telling, meaning that what English-speaking radio and “newspapers” report is what they pick out of the news they get in Spanish, and at best second hand.

    Also – you should stay away from fora – much worse for the blood pressure than storms!

    • dragojac says:

      Absolutely, there is no doubt the experience is made all the more scarier when surrounded by trees. I’ve felt much more exposed to nature here than I ever did in the UK.

      The information flow isn’t helped by the fact that the English press release went out a day after the Spanish one, so anyone relying on info purely from that would have been getting info that had happened the day before. Similarly with the Canarian TV stations. I watched one reporting information as though it was happening there and then and in reality it was at least an hour out of date – can make a big difference in the middle of a storm.

      And yes I should follow your bit of advice at the end.

      • islandmomma Life on a Small Island and Beyond says:

        It seems odd to me this time. The news seems much slower than usual, or is it my imagination? Obviously, there is a lot of relief that there were so few human casualties and no fatalities, perhaps, gearing up for the worst news, it’s a relief?

        During Delta my son was on alert with an emergency response team, but the problem was that their communications went down anyway, making is virtually impossible for them to work. I suppose this applies to news outlets too?

        That turn of phrase, “exposed to nature” – that can be a good thing, too, no? Right from the first, few months of living here, I’ve said I felt closer to nature. Somehow, in UK I felt the separation of man and nature, but here I can see that we are just a part of it all, and I can appreciate the beauty and awesomeness much more, the stars, the ocean, the sunsets, the mountains.

      • dragojac says:

        I think there were a couple of factors this time that had an affect on both news and injuries. I’m not sure how sophisticated the technology for live news reporting is here, there always seems to be a delay. But it was so so bad that I wouldn’t blame news crews for not going out in it anyway. Even by early Monday evening when we tentatively ventured outside, the roads were dead. I think people in the worst affected areas took the advice to stay inside to heart – a factor which possibly also reduced the number of injuries. Well that and luck. It was amazing that the crane that fell in Los Realejos didn’t actually land on a building. Last night I saw a crumpled floodlight outside the football stadium right across a a spot which would normally have strolling families and where old men and women congregrate.

        I’ve just been talking to friends on La Gomera and whilst Valle Gran Rey on the south escaped, they were battered by winds of over 120kmh.

        More and more reports are appearing now – Spanish press reporting catastrophe in San Juan de la Rambla and farmers also saying what hit them was much worse than Delta

        When I read of the damage and destruction and loss of livelihoods I am filled with rage at the idiots who said it was being talked up and that it was wrong to close schools and to advise people to stay inside. I know there are some who talk absolute mierde on this island, but this time they went too far. I do hope they are feeling somewhat foolish now and will stick to what they know in future, but I doubt it.

        As being closer to nature – totally agree with you…except that on Sunday night/Monday morning I would have much rather been tucked up in the centre of a town comforted by a surrounding concrete jungle – as long as it was sturdy concrete.

      • islandmomma Life on a Small Island and Beyond says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more about the idiots, but then, they always made me angry, which is why I pretty much stay away as much as I can these days. Although I have some Spanish friends who were skeptical before the event, they certainly retracted their words afterwards!

        If you’d like a yardstick – my son, in Guildford, took a day off work yesterday to go look for a new car. Guildford, whilst cold, hasn’t had some of the extreme weather some parts of UK have been experiencing, but yesterday they had about an inch of snow. He found every car showroom closed and even his bank! Having lived 4 years in Buffalo he wasn’t sure whether to be amused or horrified!!

  7. Aeon says:

    I´m glad to hear you and Andy are calmed down, I hope the damage to your roof weren´t too severe. I myself found this storm kinnda facinating…where I come from,there are similar ones. As long as the volcano wont have an outburst,we´ll be fine 😉

    • dragojac says:

      Cheers, just the clearing up to sort out. Just had a look at the roof and despite a big branch (the one in the picture) hitting it right above our heads, only a few tiles have gone. At one point with wind, rain, thunder, lightning and knowing that it was snowing on Teide I wouldn’t have been surprised if Teide had blown its top 🙂

  8. Stelli Belli says:

    We were stayin in Playa Paraiso and we were packing up to head home back to the UK and we could see the swirling wind liftin up from the Atlantic and then it hit us… trees bending, chairs and sunbeds lifted and flung into the streets below. The metal bin outside our hotel was swirling and it was very scarey! I was watching the tv in the reception while waiting to be picked up by our coach, it was showing the news and how the North of the island had been hit and a crane had fallen. What was more scarey was the fact that we were about to leave for the airport and fly in this awful weather!
    We arrived safely at the airport to see most flights were delayed but unfortunately not ours. As we embarked the storm was still raging and admit I was frightened. We sat on the aeroplane, for over an hour watching other flights come in and out of the storm, while lightening was striking the island in a spectacular show, if you just want to observe…not so great when you’re thinking you’ve gotta go through that! Eventually we were allowed to go, which I was not liking one bit, and through half an hour of bumpiness we eventually were away from the worst part of the storm! After 4 hrs of flying I was relieved to land at a very cold Manchester Airport and wake up to a blanket of snow….
    Ask would I rather have a blanket of snow and cold weather than go through that again? Any day!

    • dragojac says:

      It’s very interesting to hear an account from someone who was travelling in the storm. Waiting on a plane whilst it was raging must have been particularly frightening. It must have been some relief to emerge from it. Thanks for adding a very different perspective.

  9. Steve says:

    Hi ya

    I was staying at the El Tope in Puerto De La Cruz when the storm hit. I’ve experienced a Cat 1 Hurricane in the Caribbean and IMHO this storm was far worse.

    Also, far from being just a tropical storm (A cyclonic storm originating in the tropics and having winds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour – with wind speeds of 145 KPH at sea level you are looking at a Cat. 1 Hurricane.

    With wind speeds of 195 KPH at mountain top, you are looking at a Category 3 Hurricane.

    So, there you are: a cat 1 Hurricane at Puerto De La Cruz and a Cat 3 further up.

    See here:

    It may be I’ve made a mistake due to the word sustained in the phrase sustained winds used frequently in the above link.

    But, I suspect not, as Like I say, the storm that hit Puerto De La Cruz last week seemed far worse to me than the Cat 1 Hurricane I experienced in the Caribbean.

    Any thoughts on my comment?

    • dragojac says:

      Thanks Steve – I really appreciate having a comment from someone who not only experienced the storm but can also compare it to extreme conditions in other parts of the world. It was quite clear to me that this was something out of the ordinary and when I looked up the definition of what constituted a tropical storm found similar information to that in your comment.
      Like you it seemed to me that what we were experiencing were hurricane force winds and recorded speeds confirm this…but as you say the term sustained windsseems to be important in determining how storms are classified.
      I don’t know about you but they seemed pretty sustained here to me anyway.

      Unbelievably there are still people on Tenerife criticising the government and Met office for activating a red alert weather warning.

  10. Steve says:

    Yeah, it seemed pretty sustained to me too.

    Also, some of the damage I saw must have required some serious force. Not just that, but in the night I could feel the whole building shaking. This a 7 story building!

    My biggest concern was the possibility of the windows blowing out. In the morning it turned out the hotel had some smashed windows lower down although this was probably due to flying debris. But there was a concrete post about 7 foot hight and several inches thick near the pool that was the support for a shower – it was knocked over! I have no idea what did that but it must have been quite something. All our sun loungers were smashed into little pieces and their remains blown into the nearby gulley.

    One of the hotels nearby not only had some windows blown in about 5 floors up, but that same room had lost the balcony as well – what the hell did that? It must have been exciting for whoever was staying there. Hopefully it was empty. A number of the hotels had parts of their large hotel-name signs from the roof missing, which had probably been blowing about and smashing into things.

    WRT some people on Tenerife criticising the government and Met office for activating a red alert weather warning, that rather makes me think of the film Jaws where the mayor wants to keep the shark attacks quiet so as not to scare the tourists. If that is the case I think they are maybe over-reacting. Apart from the worry about the windows, I was confident the building would be able to survive all but the worst of disaster movie scenarios, and perhaps because of that I actually found it quite exciting!

    Also, the obvious absence of any appropriate preparation of any sort told me this must be a freak occurrence.

    I hadn’t been living in the Caribbean long when we heard we were going to be hit by a Hurricane, and the look of fear in the eyes of the long term ex-pats told me this was something to take seriously. There are a lot of things you criticise the locals for where we were, but Hurricane preparedness wasn’t one of them. All the modern buildings had storm shutters and every little village had a community storm shelter. To a large extent, because of this, in the event, it was all a bit of an anti-climax.

    But, even allowing for the difference in preparation between the Caribbean and Tenerife, the damage in Puerto De La Cruz was far worse than what I saw following a cat 1 hurricane in the Caribbean. With the Caribbean storm, one bloke on a neighbouring island, had his corrugated iron roof blown off, and that was about it.

    However, some of the long term ex-pats there had lived through a cat 5 Hurricane, the nuclear war devastation types, and they made it pretty clear to me that it was an experience they hoped they would never see again. They spoke about it like battle scarred war veterans. One bloke told me it was the deafening noise that got to him. He said it was like lying next to a railway line and having an express train go by a few feet away, hour after hour.

    One of the beaches on our island had a strange little bar where part of the roof was collapsed onto an old American convertible. Apparently it had been like that since the last cat 5 hurricane that had passed through had knocked it down. I chatted to the grizzled old yank who owned the bar and the car about it. He was like a character out of a Hollywood movie. He drawled in response “yeah that was back in ’89 (or whenever it was) when Hurricane (whatever its name was) came through. Of course they’re nowhere as bad the Tornadoes in Idaho where I come from” . It still makes me smile thinking about that conversation!

  11. chat says:

    nice sharing .. thanks

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