Weather in Gran Canaria
When is the Best Time to Go to Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria enjoys year round warmth and sunshine with very little seasonal variation. Summers are hot and dry while winters are just slightly cooler with a few showers.
The island is the third largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, often called ‘Islands of Eternal Spring’ due to their enviable climate. The Canaries sit far south of mainland Spain, close to the west coast of Northern Africa.
The islands’ southerly location, on the same latitude as the Sahara, means they are much hotter than mainland Spain in the winter. However, they are generally much cooler than might be expected at this latitude due to the surrounding sea, the cool Canary Current and northeast trade winds.
Gran Canaria is on the same latitude as The Red Sea, Florida and the Sahara desert, and has a similar sub-tropical climate. Daytime temperatures never drop below 14C in winter and are usually in the 30’s in the summer. Although very hot in summer, the humidity is relatively low and this makes the temperatures more bearable. The solar UV factor is very high however and a high factor sun cream is advised. For much of the year the island comes under the effect of the ‘trade winds’, which blow strongly from the North East, helping to keep the effective temperatures down.
In addition, the Island has it’s own ‘micro-climate’ caused by the volcanic peaks and mountains in the centre. This is characterised by more cloud and lower temperatures in the North, around the capital, Las Palmas; and more sun and higher temperatures in the South and South West. Some days there is a 2C difference between Las Palmas and the Airport; 2C between the airport and Playa del Ingles and a 2-4C difference between Playa del Ingles and Puerto Rico. In other words, actual temperatures in the tourist resorts can be 4-8C higher than shown in the papers, on teletext or on the net for a Las Palmas temperature.
Air temperature in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is a mountainous island of volcanic origin. The high central mountains create great regional variation in climate. The northeast regions are generally cooler and wetter than the southwest as the mountains trap the trade winds, forcing wind to fall before it passes over to the other side. However, the temperature difference is usually only a couple of degrees at the most. The higher altitudes of the mountains receive an alpine climate with cooler temperatures and higher rainfall year round. This concentration of diverse microclimates has seen Gran Canaria dubbed a ‘small continent’. The contrast in weather conditions is most pronounced in the winter when there is thick snow on Pico de las Nieves but 20°C heat on the Maspalomas dunes.
Summer in Gran Canaria
From May till November, is hot and sunny. The average high temperature stays in the mid 20s, reaching a plateau at 26°C from August till October. At the beginning of the season cools off at night to around 17°C and in November the average low temperature is 18°C, but for the rest of the season it usually around 20°C at night. The northeast trade winds help to keep these high temperatures comfortable in coastal regions, but most would agree that the mid 20s provide an ideal level of heat anyway.
The west side of the island can sometimes be affected by the sirocco, a hot, dry wind that originates in the Sahara. This can push temperatures into the 30s, bring a hazy sky and even clouds of dust and sand. When hot, dry conditions prevail for long, forest fires can ensue. In 2007 forest fires did extensive damage to Gran Canaria and Tenerife.Rainfall is very low at the start of the season then totally absent from June till August. September often sees a few violent rainstorms and the odd storm can be expected in October and November. Sunshine levels of around nine hours per day can be expected in the peak of the season. This decreases in October and November but November can still expect six hours per day. The sea temperature peaks and September and October at 23°C; it is always warm enough for swimming..
Winter in Gran Canaria
From December till April, is pleasantly warm with cool nights. The average high temperature drops to around 22°C for the whole season, getting just a tiny bit cooler in January at 21°C. The average low temperature falls to a cool 14°C in January and February; nights are generally cool throughout the season and require some warm clothes. Rainfall is low and reduces as the season progresses, but cool, damp and blustery weather can creep up on you without warning. Sunshine levels stay around six hours per day. The water temperature rarely falls below 19°C. Up in the mountains, snow falls. The diverse climates of Gran Canaria have created equally diverse landscapes. You can find anything from desert to tropical forest and from palm groves to alpine meadows. There is something for everyone on Gran Canaria: packed, seaside megaresorts, pubs, bars and nightclubs, golf courses, secluded beaches, a coral reef and endless routes for hikers and climbers.
Thanks to Gran Canaria’s proximity to North Africa, the island can be affected by the area’s weather patterns. While it is this proximity that is responsible for the island’s enviably hot climate, it also means that dust storms can occur as a result of strong winds blowing in from the Sahara.
February and March are the two months during which dust storms can occur. If you see one approaching, it is best to head inside, as they can seriously irritate the eyes and affect your breathing, especially if you suffer from asthma or any other respiratory problems. They can also reduce visibility to 1000 metres or less. They can lead to flight delays or cancellations. If you’re in Gran Canaria during these months, your best bet for avoiding the storms is to stay on the western side of the island, as the mountains generally block their path. As well as the dust storms, August can see hot and dusty air invade the atmosphere and cause the temperatures to suddenly escalate. Although they don’t last long, it can be useful to ensure that your accommodation has air conditioning
Air pollution can also be an issue in the winter time, when the wind drops considerably. This can cause problem with those who suffer from respiratory problems. For the optimum weather conditions year round, the coast is the best place to head. As well as plenty of sun and hot weather, this part of Gran Canaria experiences very little rain fall. Heavy rain fall is rare in the area, with most falling on the mountains, but flash flooding can occur every 15-20 years on the island.