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Tour Operators, Estate Agents and Tourist Boards spout a lot of nonsense about the weather and climate of Lanzarote: The nonsensical term “year-round climate” is bandied about a lot – a term which, presumably, implies that other parts of the world have a climate for only part of the year?
May to mid-October
The truth is that from May to mid-October, the weather is always warm with very little chance of rain, though there may be some cloud cover, especially in the north-west of the island. Mostly though, it will be sunny.
November to April
During the rest of the year, the weather can be somewhat less reliable. The dry summer weather pattern usually changes in late October or November, when the first rains arrive. To be fair, the amount of rain may be small to none, or it could be torrential. The point is that the weather becomes unreliable at this time. Sometimes it can be wet and overcast for a week, other times it can feel like summer. The sea is still warm in late October and night-time temperatures rarely drop below 17°C.
The unreliable weather continues through the winter with most days hitting the low 20s°C until May, when daily maximums begin to reach the high 20s°C. Most of the time there is plenty of sunshine especially in the southern resorts of Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen, though there will be the occasional overcast week with rain. A personal observation is that bad weather in the winter seems to last for about a week usually coinciding with a relative’s visit, and ending abruptly on the day of their departure. Night-time minimums in January, February and March are typically 14°C, with the occasional colder night. Frost is unheard-of.
The sea reaches its maximum temperature of 23 or 24°C in September and its minimum of 16 or 17°C in March. There can be considerable differences in temperature between beaches: Puerto del Carmen’s Playa Grande is quite shallow and heats up nicely in the summer, whereas Playa Dorada in Playa Blanca has a steep slope and can feel cold in comparison. The shallow lagoons of Caleton Blanco are probably the best on Lanzarote if you are looking for warm water.
Calima is the name given to the spells of dust-laden wind coming from the Sahara desert. When this occurs during the summer months, it is associated with periods of intense heat and the wind feels like a hair-dryer blowing in your face. At all times of the year, it leaves a deposit of red dust on the ground and on your car (don’t put your white wash outside to dry either). The thick dusty haze is particularly bad for those with respiratory problems, who are advised to stay indoors during severe episodes.
The Alisios, or North-east Trades, are the prevailing wind in the Canary Islands. They are at their most consistent and strongest during the summer months and at their weakest and most inconsistent during the autumn and winter.
Unlike the Western Canary Islands, Lanzarote does not have any really high mountains, so there is less of a drastic difference in rainfall between North and South. There are some differences though, with the North-west of Lanzarote receiving slightly more rainfall and cloud cover than the East and South coasts. Playa Blanca and the area south of the Ajaches mountains is the driest on the island. The daily maximum temperatures in the centres of the main towns are typically higher than those reported in the media, since buildings nearly always face south (sheltering the area from the prevailing wind) and the asphalt streets absorb the sun’s heat.