Find out why do the trade winds makes
the Canary Islands so special


The Canary Islands have a magnificent climate. This is general knowledge. However, one is struck by their climatic conditions, attending their geographic location. This archipelago is placed on the Northern Hemisphere, between the temperate and the tropical zones. This fact has a direct influence over their climate. Nevertheless, it calls the attention that the Canary Islands, which geographically belong to Africa, have so nice weather. This is possible because of the influence of two meteorological phenomena: the trade winds and the Azores High.

the trade winds canary islands mapThis map shows how, clearly, the Canary Islands are
much closer to Africa than to Europe


Because of this location, the weather in the Canary Islands is never cold. But what is curious is that the heat is never extreme, as well. There are some countries, such as Morocco, Sahara, Tunisia, etc., which are on the same latitude than this archipelago, but their weather is much hotter. Why is this happening? One of the fundamental facts that improve the climatic conditions in the Canary Islands are the trade winds, which are the central topic of this text.

The trade winds are generated in both Polar Regions. These draughts descend to the temperate regions. In the case of the Canary Islands, these draughts are collected by the Azores High (as known as North Atlantic High/Anticyclone), which is another main factor that provokes the fantastic climate we have in this archipelago. But, what is exactly an anticyclone? It is a mass of stable air, because of its high pressure. Its presence hinders the draughts. But then, how do the trade winds make their effect? They do it by skirting this mass of stability.

azores high the trade windsThis map shows the Azores High’s zone of influence over the Atlantic Ocean


The Azores High does not has its name just because. The main reason is its effect over another archipelago, called The Azores, also placed in the Atlantic Ocean. This anticyclone affects the climate of the Canary Islands in an indirect way, and it depends on where the high is located at every time of the year.

During winter, the Azores High is placed very close to the Canary Islands. Because of that, the stability is bigger in this area, and, therefore, the influence of the trade winds is smaller. As a result, the cold air almost does not affect this archipelago. This is one of the fundamental facts that enables a nice weather during this season.

azores high the trade windsazores high the trade winds

In these two maps you can observe the movements
of the Azores High between winter and summer


In summer, the anticyclone migrates and places over the Azores archipelago. At that time, it is far from the Canary Islands, and, because of that, the trade winds have a bigger influence. As a result, this cold air reduces the temperature during this season, and, as a result, the summer is not as hot as it might be expected for this latitude, and the climate is still nice.

In short, the climate of the Canary Islands is great, both during summer and during winter. The two main factors that provoke this situation are the trade winds and the Azores High. The combination of both allows that the temperature stays relatively stable during the whole year: winter is not very cold, and summer is not very hot as well. Because of their geographic location and the climatic conditions, in the Canary Islands we have a fantastic weather every day!


-Featured image: El Coleccionista de Instantes (link to the license)
-Images 1 y 2: Wikipedia
-Images 3 y 4: Gran Enciclopedia Virtual de las Islas Canarias (GEVIC)