Update 28 February 10am:
The BBC is putting the death toll caused by Xynthia’s trajectory through Spain, Portugal and France at 9. Five people have been killed in France, three on the Spanish mainland and a 10-year-old boy in Portugal. The Canaries thankfully suffered no significant damage from being touched by the edge of this storm. All alerts have now been lifted. BBC, C24H
Update 27 February 11am: The worst seems to have passed over the Canaries now, though the Red Alert will remain in place throughout the peaks, and the Vilaflor and La Orotava areas. Tomorrow, those areas reduce to Orange Alert, and the rest of the island will not be under alert. Last night was very wild night indeed. Aemet
Update 27 February 1am: Aemet has raised the Orange Alert for hurricane force gales to Red, the highest level, with winds expecting to gust to 160 km at altitude, and not just in the peaks of Teide. The Tenerife Cabildo has banned activities in mountain areas during this weekend. All recreation areas are out of bounds in the forest areas, and walking and camping are forbidden. Also prohibited are agricultural fires and fireworks near vegetation. C24H, C24H
They are calling it the “perfect storm”, and in true hurricane fashion, it has a name. Xynthia. The worst will be between midday tomorrow and the early hours of Sunday, but on the mainland. It could be bad for the Canaries, especially overnight and for the first half of tomorrow, but it looks like the worst of it will skirt the islands. Nonetheless, 190km gusts have been recorded in La Palma at the Roque de Los Muchachos, and the average wind speed in La Palma is 140 km. It’s full hurricane force. LO, C24H
Update 26 February 5pm: The Tenerife Cabildo has activated the island’s Emergency Plan as of 2pm in view of the storm’s evolution over the last few hours. This is on top of Aemet’s Orange Alert for explosive gales, and Protección Civil’s Maximum Alert for citizen security.
All access roads to Teide National Park are now closed, given the hurricane-force winds expected at altitude.
The Cabildo advises everyone to avoid unnecessary journeys and to stay indoors and close doors and windows. Also to keep watch on roof terraces and drains. Also that they take down any flowerpots or the like which could fall from a height.
Care is also advised for those who have to be out and about, particularly where things could fall from above, cranes, walkways etc. C24H
Update 26 February 3pm: The director of Aemet in the Canaries, Irene Sanz, says that the “borrasca” which is approaching the islands has developed very quickly and very intensely, and is “deep”. She expects that it will be a short, sharp shock type of storm, however, given that it is anticipated to have passed the islands by tomorrow evening.
Irene Sanz said that the term “ciclogénesis” (cyclic generation), which is how this storm is classified, refers to a cyclone, a generic term covering anything from depressions to hurricanes. In the case of this particular storm, it has generated so quickly and intensely that it is being qualified as “explosiva” (explosive). Sra Sanz said that it was not apparent from satellite images until yesterday what form this was going to take.
The force of the wind in the peaks, gusting up to 160 km, actually qualifies for a red alert, but Aemet says it has only issued an orange alert because the worst of these gales will not be in heavily populated areas. El Dia
Update 26 February 2.30pm: The Dirección General de Protección Civil y Emergencias has activated its Maximum Alert in light of the expected weather. Protección Civil said the “borrasca” is heading mainly for Spain, but will still affect the Canaries, though to a lesser degree. A Red Alert has been declared by Aemet for parts of the mainland. Meanwhile, the winds have started to cause delays in airports in La Palma, El Hierro and Tenerife, and the Canarian Dept of Education has suspended all school and extra-curricular activities in Tenerife, as well as in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, and the Gran Canarian municipalities of Tejeda, Artenara, Valleseco and Vega San Mateo. C7, C7
Update 26 February: The winds which are anticipated under the current Orange Alert are to be “hurricane force”, Aemet has said. The gales are expected to start overnight tonight and last until tomorrow evening. Behind the storm is a low pressure area which is said to be deepening very rapidly in the Atlantic to the west of Madeira. Gusts of up to 120 km are being forecast. C24H
Original Post 24 February: Aemet has activated a Yellow Alert for Friday and Saturday for south-easterly winds of up to 75 km per hour in Tenerife, as well as in La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera and Gran Canaria. Since the winds will be more extreme at altitude, gusting to 100 km per hour in Tenerife, for example, the alert is set at Orange for the higher areas of Tenerife, La Palma and Gran Canaria. C24H