The winter months last from November to March and are only slightly cooler compared to the summer, but are still considered as paradise compared to most of mainland Europe and North America. For the best rates you may want to visit the Canary Islands during November and mid-December as the airfares and accommodation generally tend to be a lot cheaper at this time of year, plus it is still pleasantly warm. Believe it or not, the winter months are actually one of the busiest seasons in the Canary Islands as many people vacate to the Canaries to escape from the cold, harsh weather back home. In the winter months the daily highs are about 17°C and nightly lows are rarely cooler than 8°C. Daily sunshine hours range from an average of six per day in winter, compared to as many as twelve in the summer months.
During winter there are occasional stormy wet periods as the weather is disturbed by the influence of an Atlantic depression, however, these periods are not overly frequent. Across the islands the levels of rainfall often differ due to the north-easterly winds, which means on average most precipitation is deposited in the north east, while the southern area tends to remain a lot more dry and sunny. For example, in Tenerife, the island receives on average 66mm of rainfall in January, while Gran Canaria is likely to receive 30mm of precipitation.
In the summer months (from June to September) the daily highs in the Canaries generally sit around 27°C. At nighttime the mercury will fall to about 18°C. Fog and cloud may occur sporadically in the summer months, but as a whole summer is usually dry and sunny.
Occasionally, hot, dry air blows from the Sahara desert. This is when the warmest days in summer will occur. Once the wind reaches the islands it is significantly cooler than on the coast of Africa; it cools as it passes over the cold ocean water. The Canary Islands also often experience heat waves during the summer months. In May 2012, temperatures in Gran Canaria exceeded a sweltering 37°C, when at this time of year it is more common for temperatures to hover between 22°C and 27°C. Furthermore, one of the hottest days ever recorded in the Canary Islands was in Lanzarote on August 6th in 1980, when temperatures reached a high of 43.6°C, which is well above the average at this time of year. When visiting the Canary Islands during the summer season always make sure to top up on water and sun cream and stay in the shade when it’s hot.
Snowfall is usually very rare in the Canary Islands, however, it is not unheard of. Recently, in January 2014, snow fell in the area of Las Mesas, found at the summit of Gran Canaria. Similar weather conditions occurred in high areas of Tenerife, such as Mount Teide, where all access roads had to be closed off due to dangerous conditions. Furthermore, La Palma was struck by a power failure that lasted a total of two hours at the height of the stormy conditions. This also resulted in the cancellation of ferry crossings and some flights to and from the Canary Islands.
In December 2013, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro experienced an intense storm, which caused flash floods across the archipelago islands. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes, due to the sudden downpour of rain, which also managed to cut off power and dozens of roads. It was estimated that wind speeds reached up to 180km/h and over 3000 lightning bolts struck the Canary Islands in a single morning.
The Canary Islands are prone to dust storms, due to their close proximity to the west coast of Africa and the Western Sahara. This type of phenomenon can happen almost at any time of the year, but is usually most likely to occur during February and March. The fine sand particles in the wind cause the air to become thick and visibility can be severely reduced to 200 metres or less, and is often compared to thick fog, depending on the severity. Dust storms can also bring along heavy rainfall, immediately afterwards. Furthermore, it is very uncommon for the Canary Islands to be hit by a hurricane, but on November 23rd 2005, the north of the Canaries were hit by Tropical Storm Delta, where it is estimated that wind speeds reached 124mph in some parts of Tenerife. It is believed that more than 200,000 people were affected by the storm, as the intense winds cut out electricity in parts of the Canary Islands. The stormed later moved on to Morocco, losing intensity.