Thursday, 24.01.2019
 Daily news from the Canaries and the islands' biggest English language newspaper on-line
Daily news from the Canaries and the islands
   Daily news from the Canaries and the islands' biggest English language newspaper on-line

Predicting the future
Whatever the weather
The series of storms and downpours towards the end of October certainly caught many areas of the Canaries unaware.

Some storms have an eerie and dramatic beauty to them
Some storms have an eerie and dramatic beauty to them
© Oliver Cruz Barroso

20.11.2015 - While nearly 120 litres fell on Arafo and Güímar, with Santa Cruz also experiencing troublesome conditions, people in other areas of the island were wondering what all the weather warnings were about.  Particularly on October 23 when the schools were closed and parents woke up to glorious sunshine, confused as to why their little ones wouldn’t attend class that day.

“It’s extremely tough to make accurate predictions”, explained Oliver Cruz Barroso, a councillor in La Matanza and keen meteorologist, “The Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET) is Spain's meteorological agency operating under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and they trigger alerts that range from yellow to orange to red PURPLE??  based on anticipated rainfall and expected wind activity.  Correspondingly, the government will react and take steps to warn the public and close certain services if deemed necessary.”

Meteorology is a passionate hobby for Barroso, who has converted the terrace of his home to cater for a weather station that can measure wind, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity, and is linked to several webcams that record the sky from multiple directions.  He shares his collected data with AEMET and publishes his calculations and predictions on his Facebook page.

How can it be that a large storm passes over the archipelago that severely affects certain areas while leaving other nearby zones relatively untouched and basking in bright autumn sunshine?  Telde in Gran Canaria saw damages from the storm reach a staggering €35 million, while many other parts of the island went unscathed.  Similarly in Tenerife and La Palma where the east coast was battered, as was the southernmost tip of El Hierro, residents in other areas laughed derisively at the warnings and precautionary school closures.

“It’s difficult to accurately predict because anything during a 72-hour period can change, and even a small alteration to the situation can make a big difference overall.  Recently, we saw a sudden wind alteration blow the clouds towards the mountains in the middle of the island, where they remained hanging and rained off.

“Additionally, sea temperatures are relatively high for this time of year which is causing increased levels of evaporation and, subsequently, higher rainfall.  It’s forming clouds which look like fog but are filled with moisture.

“Tropical storms brewing over the Atlantic and areas of Mexico have also been travelling closer to us than normal.  Some people feared we were going to be hit by Hurricane Fred, which was the first hurricane to move through the Cape Verde islands in over 120 years, but fortunately it moved in the other direction.  I am fascinated by these events and related phenomena which is why I work so closely with the subject.  There is a club called ASCANMET which consists of approximately 30 members from the Canaries interested in meteorology, and we exchange information and share data”, Barroso explained.

On the rooftop of his home he has several webcams set up that send minute-by-minute images of the sky from multiple angles so if someone wants to travel to La Matanza to enjoy a pleasant hike they can look up in advance how the weather will be.

In the near future Barroso hopes to install additional weather stations at various heights and locations: “Just a few metres in altitude can create a very different picture, and farmers, for example, who work in areas higher to the majority of the island could really benefit from more accurate forecasts”.

For Oliver, the weather is a fascinating subject that provides him with many spectacular images, surprising twists and fascinating natural insights.  When asked about climate change he added, “Personally I do not believe in it because there have always been extreme weather conditions and changes, and always will be”.

Anyone who wishes to keep up to date with Oliver’s weather forecasts and information can do so by visiting:


Gallery: Whatever the weather
Some storms have an eerie and dramatic beauty to them 
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