Rainfall is pretty rare in the main tourist resort areas like Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, Playa de Mogán, Arguineguín, Maspalomas & Playa del Inglés, in the municipalities Mogán and San Bartolomé de Tirajana, in fact there have only been two or three short showers since early Spring, this year.
You see, the island moves as a great ship through the clouds, her bow in the temperate capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and her stern in the more tropical zone of Mogán.
As the prevailing winds, known as the Trade Winds or Alisios, blow from the North East to the South West; any rain clouds that do find their way to the islands are usually caught up in the Northern foothills, where we have much higher rainfall, having to find their way around, or over, our higher altitude mountain summits. The good ship Gran Canaria ploughs through and divides these clouds, meaning we often get fast-moving winds on the north-western points and all the way down the eastern coasts, with the grey weather tending to completely miss the sunnier south and south-western areas, in the lee of the island. If a storm does hit us, these southerly areas, aft, mostly continue to enjoy bright blue skies in the wake of a fairly constant “bubble of sunshine”, as described by the Gurus over at Gran Canaria Info.
The exception to this is when storms or depressions form in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, depending on their position and the direction of travel, their cyclical nature can appear to ‘suck’ warm air off the African continent, bringing us hot winds, and even Saharan sands, from the east, potentially feeding the depression over colder oceanic waters. If the storm moves towards us then these winds can quickly reverse to blow from the West and the South.
Should a storm be travelling north, towards the Tropic of Cancer, then more often than not, we here on Gran Canaria are protected from it by Mount Teide, on Tenerife. The Islands west of Tenerife, however, will oftentimes receive large, even torrential, downpours without a drop of it ever reaching these islands, east of Spain’s tallest mountain and volcano.
There are times, though fairly rare, when storms rumble around the Atlantic Ocean, sending us Southerly winds, and bringing with them storm clouds that can suddenly surprise us with rain showers and, very occasionally, squalls along the coasts and heading inland from our usually sunnier holiday spots.
All of this makes what rainfall we do get on the south notoriously hard to predict, with professional meteorologists and sailors alike working hard to forecast the potential motion of any weather system that could disrupt our nearly “eight hours a day”, every day on average, of annual sunshine and blue skies on the south. All in all, few visitors are ever likely to experience rain here, and if they do it is usually very short-lived, but experience has taught us, as it has all the islanders, to keep one eye on the horizons, particularly around mid-autumn, winter and into early Spring, just in case an unusually dark cloud might appear to be headed in this direction, as once or twice every four to six years or so, we receive an almighty deluge, turning the weather we are all used to on its head.
And to tell the truth, we are always most grateful for it. It is these occasional cloudbursts that fill and feed our reservoirs, and thereby our crops, lowering our dependence on imported foods and fuels used to desalinate water from the seas.
So, if you are on the south, and you hear a rain warning, know that it is very unusual and that it may not even arrive as predicted, but when it does rain it can do so with force, never usually more than for a day or two, and most often for much less time than that; and that we relish it as surely as a sunny day in Edinburgh must be enjoyed, in the knowledge that everything will return to normal quickly, leaving us all better off for it.