Perhaps I should have written about the terrible storm that battered the island yesterday as soon as it was over. Maybe I should have been telling everyone about it as it occurred on Monday, but from my own experience, there was very little to tell. It is only today after reading so many articles about the devastation the storm has left in its wake that I feel I can add my 2 cents worth, and I will warn you from the get go it is nowhere near as dramatic as what everyone else seems to have encountered.
The last time a tropical storm hit Tenerife was five years ago and I was visiting the UK, the first I knew about it was a telephone call from my neighbour, telling me everything was OK and not to worry. Worry! I didn´t even know what she was talking about it was only at that point I switched on the news and learnt about Tropical storm Delta that had ravaged the island. Of course, on my return I saw that pylons along the motorway resembled bananas and learnt that folk had been without electricity for days not hours, so overall I was both relieved and grateful Chayofa had been bypassed.
Having been so lucky the first time, when I started reading the various posts on forums and in the newspaper that we were due for something similar, I did not hesitate to react. The garden furniture was all moved into the garage, ornamental plates were taken down, a couple of torches were purchased from the ferriteria and strategically placed so there was no way of forgetting where they were when the inevitable power cut arrived.
I was feeling quite confident that I had done everything possible to protect my little castle on the hill when the cynics started with their talk that people were panicking unnecessarily, there would be nothing more than a few spits of rain and a bit of a breeze and it was all a case of scaremongering. Despite the Spanish Met Office putting the island on red weather alert they laughed at those of us who were worried and scoffed at all the fuss being made.
As Sunday progressed while many spoke of the calm before the storm, I began to think the skeptics might just be right, as it was a beautiful day. However, in the early hours of the morning I was woken by rain beating against the Perspex domes in my roof and the wind howling thorough the house. I jumped up, closed the window, and snuggled down little expecting to sleep, but the bad weather seemed to ease and within no time, it was morning and a horrible day.
Horrible doesn´t really conjure up what was happening in other parts of the island, but as far as I was concerned, it was raining heavily, but certainly no worse than I had experienced in the UK most weeks in autumn and winter. There was a strong wind, but being a northern lass this was no worse than I was used to as it whipped the waves over the Fish Sands at Hartlepool and glory be, the power was still on so we could have our morning coffee and croissants as usual. We did lose our electricity at one point for a whole 10 minutes. During which time I did the proverbial headless chicken routine of rushing around, making sure the torches were where I had put them despite it being just 10 o’clock in the morning.
And so the day passed, wet, windy and with spectacular thunder and lightning over Los Cristianos which was thrilling to watch but not the least bit frightening as it looked to be a fair distance away.
It is only now when Chayofa is back to its normal lazy-day routine, that I have learnt that the north of the island that was supposed to see less of the storm than the south has really suffered. Reading reports there are still 23,000 people without electricity, the wind howling thorough Puerto de la Cruz reached 145kmh and caused chaos, fallen trees closed a main road and windows were blown out of the San Filipe hotel injuring several holidaymakers. Slightly closer to home, flights and ferries were cancelled and all schools closed, much to the delight of my next-door neighbour’s children.
I have said on numerous occasions that the weather in Tenerife is hard to define. Two miles up the road in La Camella it was so cold my friend and her children spent the day in bed telling ghost stories. A little higher in Valle San Lorenzo people had been kept awake all night by the terrible winds, rain and lightning and I feel almost guilty that the worst damage we had was a couple of branches were snapped off my poinsettia.
Although not classed as a tropical storm, what Tenerife experienced was given the name Andres by locals and I think many will remember it and the havoc it caused, while some of us just hope that should we see similar in another five years we will be equally as lucky as we have been on the past two occasions.