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Posts Tagged ‘flooding’

Anyone who knows the Canary Islands will affirm that Carnaval (carnival) and bad weather are inextricably linked. So when the Spanish Met Office showed the island this week – Carnaval week – to be on orange alert status, no-one was really too surprised.
Thankfully Opening Night Parades (where they actually happened…) passed off without weather incident but Sunday night was a bit of a wash out here in Puerto de la Cruz and lacking a Paddington Bear outfit, I didn’t bother venturing down to the Plaza. But after a damp start, Monday turned bright and sunny and the traditional Monday night party looked good to go.
Tuesday is the Gran Coso Apoteosis (closing) Parade in the capital city of Santa Cruz and so naturally, the entire island is given a Public Holiday in order to attend (this is a very civilised island as far as workers are concerned and Public Holidays are declared at the drop of a sombrero). Consequently, the Monday night street party is usually one of the best.

We’d heard reports of bad weather starting to come in from other parts of the island during the evening; strong winds mainly with some early reports of heavy rain, but here in Puerto de la Cruz we set off to walk the 3km into town at around 11.30pm beneath clear, starry skies in a balmy 21°C, sweating considerably by the time we reached Plaza Charco.

Marge Simpson and her twin sister, out on the town without Homer...d'oh!

Despite fewer numbers than in previous years, the atmosphere was buoyant and the standard of costumes was, if anything, better than ever. Almost entirely absent were the all-in-one Dalmation costumes which have dogged us (ouch!) for many years, particularly amongst the young. There were fewer gangsters too and those that did wear the black trousers, white T shirts and braces, added some excellent facial designs to lift the effect. Pirates were still strongly in evidence but the authenticity of costumes (well, Hollywood style) was very high.
My favourites amongst the rest of the highly original, witty and professional outfits were the N’avi, who looked nothing short of sensational; two Marge Simpsons and Shrek and Fiona – all incredibly authentic looking.

Somewhere around 3am/3.30am – it’s difficult  to be exact, time has a way of skipping continuity at the Carnaval street parties and you can lose entire hours amongst the madness – we noticed that the breeze was starting to pick up. By 4am it had turned into a decent wind, gusting plastic beer cups and debris all around the harbour. The gusts grew stronger and the atmosphere took on a hurricane party feel with groups of revellers climbing onto the wall of Casa Aduana and dancing into its headlong blast.
A male Marilyn Monroe who had spent the entire evening swishing up his dress to reveal his underwear suddenly went into reverse mode as he reproduced the famous ‘Seven Year Itch’ scene to brilliant effect.

The atmosphere took on a distinct 'hurricane party' feel - madness.

At around 4.30am we left the party and headed home. As soon as we moved away from the coast the wind dropped and we were back into sultry, still, clear night that left us once again sweating by the time we reached home. Lengthy make-up removal meant that it was 5.40am before we finally got to bed and at 7am I was woken by the sound of the wind howling around the house and sending debris from the trees smashing against the patio doors.
By 7.30am all was once again still as the grave.

When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed at 10.30am, it was to clear blue skies, unbroken sunshine and barely a flutter of a breeze but reports showed that much of the rest of the island was being lashed by heavy rain and strong winds.

The orange alert remains in place for the foreseeable future; of course it does, it’ll be here as long as Carnaval is.

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Barranco de Santo, Santa Cruz

We set off down south yesterday at 1.30pm to go to a meeting in Los Cristianos. It had been a drizzly morning in Puerto de la Cruz, nothing particularly spectacular, just showers and the occasional bright interval.

As we drove through Tacoronte the sky looked as if the end of the world was nigh. Nothing unusual there, this is Tacoronte. But as we continued into La Laguna it was really strange to find that we were driving through thick bruma (low cloud), or at least, that’s what we thought it was. The further we drove, the thicker the cloud became and we realised this was actually fog – a real pea-souper of a fog, the kind I haven’t seen for many years.
Traffic crawled through the slip road from the TF5 to the TF1 and gradually the fog lifted.

Passing through Candelaria in steady rain we could see gushing torrents of water cascading over the side of the road bridge and strewn rocks over the hard shoulder where they’d fallen down the cliff sides.

We continued through the rain, commenting on the amount of debris that was filling the hard shoulder and the inside lane of the motorway and realising that there must have been a helluva lot more rain on this side of the island than we had so far witnessed in Puerto.

When we reached Arico the mobile phone went. It was John Beckley, the guy whose office we were heading to for the meeting. John told us that the Cabildo (Island Government) had issued a severe weather warning and were advising people to switch off all their electrical appliances and to avoid all travel. Schools had been closed and the island was on full alert. John advised us to turn back.
We’ve seen storms on Tenerife before and knew that this was sensible advice.

Taking the next exit we headed back up the TF1 towards Santa Cruz. The sky grew progressively blacker and raindrops the size of small swimming pools began to hit the windscreen. I knew we were in for an outburst. Within a minute the heavens opened and torrential rain lashed down onto us obscuring visibility and sending all the traffic into a braking frenzy. We slowed and left a vast distance between us and the car in front, the wipers on top speed trying to keep the windscreen clear. In seconds the surface was covered in water which was spraying up from lorries and a Titsa bus in front of us causing even worse visibility.

As we approached the turn off for the TF5 at Santa Maria the traffic ground to a crawl. Through the driving rain we could hear sirens but couldn’t see anything until they were almost on top of us and we had to pull as far into the side as we could to let Policia Local pass by. We crawled all the way onto the TF5 until past La Laguna when the rain began to lighten a little and we finished our journey without incident.Back in Puerto it had rained, but it was nothing like we’d witnessed on the east side of the island.

Within minutes of returning, the thunder and lightning began and we

Avenida Venezuela, Santa Cruz

unplugged all our appliances and went back to good old fashioned pen and paper to work. But the storm never really came very near us and after a couple of hours we plugged everything back in and turned on the news.
We were horrified to see the devastation in Santa Cruz. By 4 pm the island had been put onto a level 2 alert, more than 25,000 homes were without electricity and almost 130 litres of rain had fallen in a single day. Avenida Venezuela was under water; the trams were swimming; people’s houses were flooded and the Barranco de Santo was a raging torrent.

This may be the island of eternal spring but when the weather hits, it’s a small island in an archipelago which is exposed to Atlantic storms. Thankfully they don’t hit very often but they’re no stranger. In the six plus years that we’ve lived on Tenerife we’ve seen plenty of tropical storms.

Last week the British Guild of Travel Writers was on the island and Tenerife was courting their good impressions. When I spoke to several members they were complaining that the weather in the south had been quite cloudy since they got here and it wasn’t as good as they’d been expecting. They went home on Sunday…phew, that was close!

Photos from La Opinión

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