Climates of the Iberian Peninsula

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In January, Spaniards can swim in the ocean around he Canary Islands, off the southern tip of Spain, while their friends ski on one of the country´s snowy mountains. The weather is dramatically different from region to region because of the varied landscape. Rain pours steadily on the northwestern coast, hot winds blow over the Meseta, and snow falls in many of the mountains.

Wet Spain

Winds blowing over the Atlantic Ocean bring a lot of rain to Spain´s northwest coast. This area is sometimes called “Wet Spain”. Summers in Wet Spain are warm, humid, and rainy. Winters are cool and rainy.

Dry Spain

The central and southern parts of Spain are known as “Dry Spain”. The central Meseta receives most of its rain in April. As the people who live there say, “En abril, aguas mil” or “In April, water by the thousands”. After April, little rain falls. Summer is blistering hot, with dry winds that drift north from the Sahara Desert, in North Africa. These winds get trapped on the plateau by the surrounding mountains. The winter is bitterly cold, with below-freezing temperatures and sharp winds.

Southern Spain

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” is a line from the musical My Fair Lady. It does not, however, describe the plains of southern Spain. Scorching winds from the Sahara blow over this area. As well, a wind called the solano brings broiling weather in the summer to the plains of Andalusia, in the south. This region is the hottest in all of Spain, with desertlike areas such as Almería, on the southern coast.

The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are close to the Sahara Desert. Like the Sahara, they have hot and dry weather all year around, but pleasant breezes from the Gulf Stream cool off the islands in the evenings. The temperature changes very little from season to season, which makes the Canary Islands a popular spot for tourists.

Snowy Mountains

Even in a warm climate like Spain´s, some mountains are high enough to have snow on their peaks all year. Pico de Teide, on Tenerife, is permanently capped with snow. In the Pyrenees, the snow can be so heavy during the winter months that roads are sometimes blocked.

In the south, snow covers the Sierra Nevada Mountains for most of the year. These mountains are home to the southernmost ski resort in all of Europe. Skiers enjoy sliding down the slopes of the Sierra Nevada because of the warm and pleasant weather that awaits them at the bottom. World championship ski races take place on the highest mountain in this range, called Mulhacén.