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Canary Islands endure July 2004 heatwave

25 Jul 2004, one of the cats trying to keep cool in the intense heatwave

The action of hot winds from Africa enveloped the Canary Islands in an infernal bubble between July 22 and 28, 2004. Scorching sun, calima and, above all, torrid air, were the conditions that the islands had to endure during five suffocating summer days. Thermometers reached unprecedented record temperatures, not seen in decades. The warm air shot temperatures up to 43 degrees in the shade in midland areas. The two Canary Islands' capitals were not spared from the heatwave either: Santa Cruz de Tenerife reached 41º and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 40º. In Lanzarote it reached 43.5º and in no island, except El Hierro, did it drop below 40º during the central hours of the day. The Ministry of Health confirmed the death of 12 elderly people and a 55-year-old man due to the heat wave, the most intense since the Territorial Meteorological Centre was established.

Seven of the deaths occurred in Gran Canaria, four in Tenerife, one in Lanzarote and one in La Palma. Some 113 people required attention in hospital centres (84 in Tenerife and 49 in Gran Canaria), 30 people were admitted with dehydration symptoms. More than sixty thousand farmyard animals, including chickens, chickens and rabbits, died of suffocation on farms. Sleeping was difficult, since night temperatures did not drop below 30 degrees, the hottest record since August 1961, according to statistics from the National Institute of Meteorology. The mountains of Tenerife, La Palma and Gran Canaria suffered forest fires, although the twelve outbreaks declared in five days were quickly controlled.

Electricity consumption increased 9% and water consumption 50%, reported Unelco and Enmasa, respectively. Sales of air conditioners and fans increased tenfold in large stores, until stocks were exhausted in just four days. The trade winds on Thursday 29 brought a cooling of the atmosphere and the islands returned to their usual spring-like climate.

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