Photo: Tenerife Cabildo.
Updated 7 March: After the second weekend in which an Operativo Nevada was in place, the Tenerife Cabildo has announced that from Monday, 7 March, all access roads to the Teide National Park are open to traffic without restrictions.
Updated 4 March: The Tenerife Cabildo has reactivated Operativo Nevada for this coming weekend. It will be different from last weekend, however, because the conditions have changed in the last week. On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th, access to the Teide national park will be as follow:
- South access: open to the public as far as the Teleferico by either the TF38 or TF21, which will be open in both directions.
- North access: there will be a one-way route open to the public going up via the TF21 from La Orotava and down through Vilaflor (TF21) or Chio (TF38). Traffic will not be able to descend by the TF21 to La Oratava once drivers have passed Aguamansa.
- North access: there will be 25 free buses running between 9am and 4pm on the TF-24 La Esperanza and Izaña.
There are widespread closures for forest tracks and hiking trails, many of which will be closed to the public for safety reasons. Hikers can consult THIS page which the Cabildo has set up to help identify where they can safely walk.
Again, Operativo Nevada will be in place for access between 8am and 6pm both days, and the Guardia Civil will have traffic controls in place. The Cabildo has released this map of the routes and access described above.
Updated 1 March: Carreteras has announced that at last it has been able to reopen the TF21 north access to the Teide National Park via La Orotava. The TF24 La Esperanza road remains closed.
Updated 28 February: Operative Nevada has now concluded. with a total of 3,863 people using the Cabildo’s free buses from Vilaflor to go up to the National Park to enjoy the snow. The Cabildo says that tomorrow, the TF 38 (Chio) and the TF21 (Vilaflor) will be open to get into the area, but again, only as far as the Teleférico. Beyond that, roads are still closed because of ice and the rare snowfall. The TF-24 (La Esperanza) is closed from the junction with the TF-523 (Arafo), and the TF-21 (La Orotava) is closed fromRamón Caminero (PK24).
Tenerife President Carlos Alonso praised the weekend’s initiative and the behaviour of the public, saying that whole thing had passed without incident. Cabildo environment councillor José Antonio Valbuena also expressed gratitude to the Cruz Roja and the Canarian Emergency Services for their help over the weekend, as well as the Guardia Civil, Vilaflor Policía Local, the Cabildo roads department, Titsa and the National Park itself.
Meanwhile, a maintenance team of some 30 continues to work on the north access roads to get them open as soon as possible. Snowfall reached 1.35m in Izaña last week.
Updated 27 February: Unfortunately, although Operativo Nevada buses will take visitors to the Teleférico in the National Park, the cable car itself will be closed because of high winds, which have arrived as forecast yesterday.
Updated 3.30pm: As Stewart Kirby has commented below,
We have just got back home after taking some friends up to the Caldera. There is still a lot of snow around although the roads are clear. There was a fair bit of traffic including trip buses and it was difficult, if not impossible to park in the recognised car parks. People were leaving their cars at the side of the road making it awkward to pass and there were lots of cyclists. I expect it will be a lot busier tomorrow so be prepared for queues and difficulty parking. Of course it was absolutely beautiful and not too cold today.
With these conditions in mind, and with an Aemet forecast for a further wintry front this weekend, the Tenerife Cabildo has activated Operativo Nevada between 8am and 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
This means that:
- there will be a single-direction route for cars, which will only be able to go up to the national park by the Chio-Boca Tauce TF38, and back down only by the Vilaflor TF21
- cars will only be able to go as far as Boca Tauce, and will not be allowed to turn left at the junction towards the Parador, but will have to turn right to go back down by the Vilaflor TF21
- there will be free Titsa buses on both days from Vilaflor to the Teleférico
- the public should not attempt to hike in the area because of sheet ice and unsafe snow drifts
With respect to the free buses, Titsa lines to Vilaflor from Los Cristianos (the 482) and from the Costa Adeje (the 342) will run as normal, but there will be parking areas made available in Vilaflor for those who prefer to drive that far. Fifteen buses will run on an ongoing round-trip basis between Vilaflor and the Teleférico from 10am to 4pm, and the Cabildo has said that more will be put on if necessary.
The public is asked to cooperate fully with Operativo Nevada which the Cabildo says is activated in order to guarantee public safety. The Guardia Civil will have traffic controls in place.
Updated 26 February: Aemet has now raised a yellow alert for high winds throughout Tenerife tomorrow, Saturday, and strong costeros – very rough seas – in the south, west and east of the island. And so we’re back to where this post started. Any risk of cold water shock is much increased when the sea is rough and when people have to struggle in it, and that is in addition to the risk of simply being swept away by waves or undertow which is often stronger than apparent. Please see HERE for more information, and especially have a look at the video at the end … and please be careful near the coast.
Updated 2pm: It’s been thought possible for a few days, and now Aemet has made the forecast. Another cold and wet front is expected this weekend, bringing rain especially in the north, high winds, and it will get colder still. There are no alerts in place, at least at the moment, but it’s very likely that there’ll be more snow!
Here are Aemet’s projected rainfall maps for Saturday and Sunday:
Updated 11.30am: The access from the south now reaches as far as the Teleférico, and the cable car has opened to the public in the last couple of hours. That will be some sight for those who feel like going up!
Updated 25 February: The Cabildo has announced that the TF38 Boca Tauce-Chio road has now been reopened, and the TF21 through Vilaflor has been reopened as far as the Parador. The caldera is therefore open as far as the hotel for access from the south. Access from the north remains blocked because of sheet ice which will take heavy machinery to remove. A team of 40 is working in this area with three bulldozers and two snowploughs. The Cabildo says that these are working until 7pm on drifts that are some 2m deep; working later is impossible because of the extremely low temperatures in the national park after dark, and the task is complicated by the fact that deicers and salt are not permitted in the protected area. An announcement will be made in a few days as to whether the north access routes to Teide are able to be opened.
Updated 24 February: Access roads to the Teide National Park remain closed, though the TF38 Boca Tauce-Chio road is now accessible up to Chirche. Carreteras has released these photos of work yesterday on the TF24 (La Esperanza).
Updated 6.20pm: The rescue of the walker seriously injured in the national park occurred at a quarter past three this afternoon when a 25-year-old man suffered a serious fracture to his lower leg after falling in a rocky area of the caldera. His leg was immobilized at the scene, and after being winched aboard the helicopter (photo below), he was flown to TFN Los Rodeos, from where he was transferred to Candelaria hospital. Emergency services say that several other walkers were with him. The Cabildo has repeatedly issued warnings and requested the public to stay away from the area.
Updated 5.30pm: Emergency services say that a search and rescue helicopter has been in action rescuing a walker who was seriously hurt after a fall while hiking in the Teide National Park this afternoon. More information later, I’m sure.
Updated 11.30am: And now this video …
Updated 11am: Perhaps stung by criticism that roads are unnecessarily shut and that works are taking too long now that the Cabildo, rather than the Canarian Government, is managing the national park, Carreteras has released the following photos of the conditions in which they were continuing to work yesterday. This is a rare snowfall, and it would take one fatality for everyone to round on the Cabildo and say they shouldn’t have allowed the public near the place with snow heaped on ice … and as these photos show, “heaped” is exactly the right word.
Updated 23 February: The Cabildo says that Teide access roads TF-24, TF-21 & TF-38 remain closed today while work continues. Meanwhile Aemet Izaña has posted this gorgeous photo taken at first light yesterday from its installation at the Teide Observatory.
Updated 22 February: All access roads to the Teide caldera remain closed today, with Cabildo road teams working especially to reopen the TF21 (La Orotava) and TF38 (Chio) access roads, which they say are lethal sheets of ice covered with snow. The TF24 (La Esperanza), as usual, suffered worse than the other roads and will remain closed for a while longer. Rockfalls on the TF-31 (Puerto de la Cruz via Martiánez) and TF-445 (access to Teno from Buenavista del Norte) mean that they too remain closed. These are the conditions road teams are working in.
Update 21 February: The only update about roads today is that there is no change from yesterday. The Teide National Park is closed, with the Tenerife Cabildo – now in charge of the Park’s management (link) – saying yesterday that the public should not try to enter it, and that all access roads are shut to traffic. To be clear, “all roads are closed” does not mean, nor does it need to mean, that there are physical barriers preventing access. It is an administrative statement: “roads are closed” means “do not come”.
Police say that they are getting inreasingly annoyed at the numbers they are having to turn away trying to get to areas where access is prohibited. There has been a considerable number of incidents requiring intervention of police and road services, and given the ban on traffic in the national park it is possible that a charge for assistance will be levied on anyone needing help: this would be within the remit of the regulations governing “risky activities” because there are official warnings in place (link). This all also applies to main roads, forestry tracks, and any other access.
Update 6pm: The Tenerife Cabildo has announced that it will keep all Teide access roads closed for the immediate future for safety reasons. The Cabildo requests the public not to try to go into the national park, and says that maintenance teams are working to ensure the roads are safe to reopen as soon as possible, and as soon as weather conditions allow. This applies to main roads, forestry tracks, and any other access.
For the moment, the TF-21 La Orotava – Granadilla, TF-24 La Laguna – El Portillo, and TF-38 Boca Tauce – Chío are lethal with sheets of ice covered by snow, and the TF 445 Buenavista – Teno is closed because of rockfalls. The TF-31 Puerto de la Cruz access via Martiánez is closed because of flooding.
The Cabildo says that since Thursday, road teams have had to attend to several vehicles which have been rendered immobile through snow or accident, with risks to drivers and passengers. The authorities ask all drivers to take extreme care in Tenerife generally at present and respect signals saying that roads are closed. They assure the public that as soon as it is safe to do so, roads will be opened to allow people to go and enjoy the unique aspect of the Teide national park in the snow. The public is reminded that whatever the weather conditions nearer the coast, there are still stormy conditions at altitude and this is complicating the work of maintenance and security personnel.
Update 20 February: This morning the caldera is closed to traffic, with the Chio, La Esperanza and La Orotava access roads closed. The Arafo road is open but blocked where it joins the TF24. The Teno access road is also still closed, as is the Martiánez road down into Puerto de la Cruz.
Update 5pm: Roads remaining closed (and only partly) are:
TF-21 (between Aguamansa and Vilaflor, i.e. through the caldera)
TF-24 (from Las Lagunetas)
TF-31 (Puerto de la Cruz via Martiánez)
TF-38 (Boca Tauce – Chío)
TF-445 (access to Teno from Buenavista del Norte)
TF-523 (to the TF24 junction)
Update 1pm: The TF-436 (Masca – Santiago del Teide) has been reopened.
Update 11am: The Tenerife Cabildo has announced these road closures:
TF-21 (La Orotava-Granadilla de Abona)
TF-24 (La Esperanza)
TF-38 (Boca Tauce – Chío)
TF-436 (Masca – Santiago del Teide)
TF-31 (Puerto de la Cruz via Martiánez)
TF-445 (Buenavista del Norte – Teno)
TF-523 (Los Loros – Arafo)
Update 10am: The Santiago del Teide to Masca road is closed, as is the road to Teno peak, because of ice on the carriageway.
Update 19 February: It was -12º at the Teleférico first thing this morning, with this beautiful wintry scene to prove it! The cable car is, of course, closed, but so are the senderos (walking routes), and now both north subidas – via La Orotava and La Esperanza – are closed. Although the southern access roads remain open, the authorities advise against going up to the national park, and request the public not to do so.
Update 2pm: Emergency services advise against driving up Teide to see the snow which is already falling in the national park because the roads are literally sheets of ice, and some roads, eg the La Orotava subida, have been closed. These still early conditions are pretty obvious from this photo from Canarias Emergencias.
Update 18 February: Well, today has the lot. Aemet has issued a yellow alert for today for the whole of Tenerife for wind, costeros, rain, and snow. Winds are forecast to gust to 70 km/h, and rain of up to 80mm over 12 hours is forecast but mainly in the medianías and at altitude, in which it will be snow above 1500m. The sea will have a swell of 5m (please see the links below for safety advice). Tomorrow, the yellow alert remains for high winds and costeros, reducing to just costeros on Saturday.
Update 15 February: Emergency services and meteorologists say that they deplore the scaremongering that has seen reports of possible red alerts for hurricane-force gales in the Canaries, and which have reported widespread school closures tomorrow. To be clear: there is an orange alert, today, for winds gusting to 90 km/h in south, east and west Tenerife until midnight tonight; for the rest, the alert is yellow for winds gusting to 85 km/h, and for costeros – it is the sea that will be the biggest problem, with swells of some 4-5m, especially in north Tenerife. The Canarian Government’s education department confirms that schools have not been closed through this weather system.
Update 13 February: The prealaert issued last Monday by Aemet has now become a yellow alert for high winds and wild seas from Monday, and expected to last until Wednesday. Winds gusting to 75km/h are expected though south-east and north-west facing areas could find they’re stronger. Temperatures are forecast to drop noticeably too, but it’s the seas that will present the real danger, with people here for winter sun unaware that there will be problems with cold-water shock and strong undertow. Please see HERE (especially the video at the end), and apologies once again for boring with this, but people die … and these seas are expected to have a swell of some 5m, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Update 8 February: The Canarian Government’s Dirección General de Seguridad y Emergencias (DGSE) has issued a prealert for rough seas from midnight tonight and lasting over the next few days. As I posted below, any cold water shock risk is much increased when the sea is rough and when people have to struggle in it, and that is in addition to the risk of simply being swept away by waves or undertow which may be stronger than apparent. The official advice on how to stay safe in rough seas – costeros – is HERE. Please be careful.
Original post 29 January: After what seems like months of calima after calima with very little moist or cool air in between, we have a few days to a week or so now where los alisios, the trade winds which bring cooler moist air from the north, predominate and stop the hot dry African systems holding sway. The trade winds are coming in force, however, and although it is not clear how much, if any, rain we are going to get (La Palma was put on yellow alert this morning for rain but that’s now been lifted because less is expected than originally forecast), what we will get is wind and, particularly, wild seas.
There’s no particular weather that mightn’t be expected at this time of year, but those wild seas need to be known about … for obvious reasons. Please tell anyone who looks like they need to know, or anyone who’ll listen, in fact, that any cold water shock risk is much increased when the sea is rough and when people have to struggle in it, and that is in addition to the risk of simply being swept away by waves or undertow which may be stronger than apparent due to the weather front. Aemet itself has raised a yellow alert for costeros – wild seas – from midnight tonight. Please be careful.