Tenerife’s lucky escape as Theta loses strength and resumes northward trajectory

Graphic: NHC.

Updated 14 November: Well it looks like everyone got a bit jittery last night after winds started picking up through the day because this morning there is no evidence of much wind, and the National Hurricane Centre has maintained its original stance that Theta will skirt us on its way north as expected. Local meteorollogists are saying that because the storm has weakened – as expected – it has shifted its trajectory back to northwards rather than heading straight at us, and it is indeed apparently at the point of losing even its Tropical Storm status and being called a Tropical Depression. It could still bring some winds and rough seas to La Palma later today and tonight but the effects on Tenerife are really not expected to be more than tangential. Can’t say I’m sad, actually, because I hate the wind!

Updated 10pm, 13 November: The wind has been picking up all day, and now in addition to Aemet’s yellow alert for high winds in north Tenerife from an hour ago, the Canarian Government has issued its own warning for high winds from midnight for the whole of Tenerife but particularly the north, and increasing with altitude to gusts of up to 110km/h. Batten down the hatches tonight, this is supposed to last until Sunday or so.

Updated 10pm, 12/11: Aemet has issued an advisory note about Theta saying that the likelihood of the cyclone nearing the Canaries has increased but that the storm will be losing force when it is at its closest to us. La Palma will notice its effects the most, especially with high winds and rough seas but possibly with some heavy rain too, but north Tenerife too has a yellow alert for high winds from 9pm tomorrow, when Aemet says there’ll be further updates. 

Updated 12 November: Well weather’s unpredictable by nature! Theta seems to have tacked slightly towards the Canaries and, as a result, there’s a higher chance than previously that Tenerife will be affected by the storm. No-one is forecasting a direct hit, I stress, but we are likely to get more of that indirect effect than we we’d anticipated.

Aemet says now that S and SW winds are expected to affect La Palma and Tenerife, especially at altitude where gusts of over 70km/h are anticipated from tomorrow night, lasting through Saturday. The winds could affect lower regions of Teneife as well, particularly in the north for which Aemet has raised a yellow alert, but also in the medianías and even the coasts could see very blustery conditions, and of course that means the sea will be perilous. Theta is expected to weaken slightly, however, on Saturday, and so at least we won’t get the full blast of the glancing encounter, but Aemet says that at the moment, they are not ruling out any possibilities … other than we are not to expect much in the way of rain, sadly.

The skies, however, might be spectacular again because we will have lots of clouds, but Aemet says that in a nutshell these types of storm are more destructive than helpful, with high winds, little rain, and dangerous seas. Worst day will be Saturday.

Original post 10 November: Meteorologists say that weather systems are changing and a “new normal” is at play with the weather too, with the Canaries increasingly affected by the fronts that start south of us and head out across the Atlantic gaining strength as tropical storms and, sometimes, hurricanes. Over recent years they have displayed an increasing unpredictability and tendency of some to head north, or to double back after starting out west. The effects of these on the Canaries are rarely direct. Delta was one such some years ago but then we had the luck that the storm’s rain and wind fronts were separated; when they are not, we get the sort of storm that destroyed the La Orotava valley and killed hundreds in Tenerife back in 1826 (see HERE).

Since Delta, we’ve had other close encounters, but mostly the increasingly normal but anomalous northwards-heading storms skirt us as they head towards Madeira and the European mainland. And such is likely to be the case with the latest anomaly, already at tropical storm strength and named Theta. This has been followed for some days now and showed every likelihood of skirting us but its trajectory has shifted a bit south, and so it is now considered a possibility – not a strong one but a possibility all the same – that it will bring very strong winds to La Palma over the next few days to a week.

Any effect of Theta on us in Tenerife is likely to be felt mainly at altitude, but this is a storm in progress so is being monitored in case its trajectory shifts again. As so often, however, the main concern is the winds rather than rainfall, some more of which would actually be welcome.

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