The Rain Shadow effect caused by the mountainous interior keeps the South-west very arid. Conversely, most of the island’s rainfall is received on the northern slopes between 600 and 1800 meters above sea level. An interesting phenomenon that can often be observed on Tenerife is known as the Sea of Clouds. This happens when the moist trade winds (sea level) condense as they rise over the steep northerly slope of the Island and then meet a temperature inversion layer (drier and warmer air at a higher altitude) at around 1700m.
These factors combined with the island’s diverse topography mean that there are a number of micro-climates on this relatively small island. The south, lying in rain shadow, is the driest and warmest part of the Island, however temperatures and rainfall aren’t as radically different to Santa Cruz in the north as one might expect. The most dramatic differences in climate are often between areas that are actually adjacent to one another; Santa Cruz receives an average of 214mm of rain per year and has an average temperature of 21.2°C, travel just a few kilometres to the Airport near La Laguna (at an altitude of 617m) and the average temperature is just 16.5°C and it receives a whopping 557mm of rain per year.
Looking for the sunniest spot on the Island? Head inland and drive above the clouds – the observatory at Izaña records an average of 3433 hours of sunshine per year.
Tenerife has Spain’s highest mountain – Teide (3718m) – which is often be covered in snow during the winter months. It is not uncommon for Northern European tourists to bask in sunshine in Puerto de la Cruz with the snowy peak of Teide in full view.
Occasionally, when the wind comes from the east or south-east off the Sahara Desert, the temperatures soar and the air becomes thick with fine red dust. While Tenerife is not as badly affected by this phenomenon as the Eastern Canary Islands, temperatures can become unpleasant and the fog-like dust-laden air can cause problems for people with respiratory conditions.
Climate Table for Tenerife South Airport
|Month||Average Temperature (°C)||Average Daily Maximum (°C)||Average Daily Minimum (°C)||Average Rainfall (mm)||Average Humidity (%)||Average no. Days with rain||Average no. Cloudy Days||No. Hours of Sunshine|