Gran Canaria has been declared at risk of forest fire with maximum temperatures set to reach up to 38ºC in the shade. Temperatures in direct sunlight could easily be significantly hotter, reaching 40-42ºC+
The Cabildo de Gran Canaria, island government, has asked that all citizens act responsibly and do not head inlands towards the summits as this can only complicate any potential situation during this extreme heat wave.
All appropriate prohibitions have been activated, ranging from the use of barbecues to the use of machinery or fireworks, as well as bans on all open fires or the burning of shrub lands, etc and the avoidance of any activity that may generate a spark, in these tinderbox conditions.
All forest fires (#IF) on Gran Canaria have been caused by humans, the fewer people inland and around the summits of the island, the better. Simply put this avoids anyone being involved in a fire, causing it unintentionally, or having to be evacuated and it facilitates the work of the emergency services, should they be called upon over coming days.
Cabildo helicopters will carry out dissuasive inspection flights and will report non-compliance.
The Military Emergency Units UME, so vital in fighting last year’s major fires, have been pre-alerted and put on standby and the entire means of all the administrations have been made available.
Gran Canaria is now facing conditions conducive to a large forest fires, following the dangerous cocktail of high temperatures which could easily reach up to 42ºC in the shade this weekend, mixing with a collapse in ambient humidity, winds and water stress.
So the Cabildo has called on the population not only to be extremely cautious and avoid any all sources of sparks or ignition, but to actually avoid going near the summits or inland areas of the island, as all forest fires on Gran Canaria are human-caused and and so the fewer people in those areas the better.
This highly adverse situation, has led to a Canary Islands Government declaration of maximum alert due to the serious risk of forest fires of midnight on Thursday 20 August, which will last at least until Monday 24, throughout the weekend, it is recommended people avoid the summits, since small accidents also generate fires in this situation, even without wilful disobedience, for which helicopters will be deployed to fly over the island and notify the authorities on the go.
The forecasts point to heat peaks of 38º to 42º at the summits and in the south, while relative humidity will plummet below 30 percent in a scenario where strong winds will complete this very risky situation. This declaration comes just one year after the start of the major wildfires experienced here back in August 2019.
The declaration of maximum alert automatically strengthens all prohibitions established by the Cabildo until September 30 in the campaign against wild fires, prohibiting not only portable barbecues, but also the use of all spaces provided for the public to make fires, burn charcoal or even smoke for beekeeping purposes, as well as the use of all machinery that may generate sparks, such as radial saws, chainsaws, welding equipment or brush cutters, and of course the banning of all fireworks to work alongside the usual prohibitions that come into force during summer season, such as stubble burns and burning of any kind.
In addition, the Cabildo’s Environment Council has the power to order more prohibitions and restrictions depending on the meteorological conditions and risks to the forests or the population, so recommends that citizens remain attentive to notices on their official Twitter profile channel.
The Cabildo de Gran Canaria emphasised that citizen collaboration will be essential in this situation to prevent carelessness or negligence, or even a small accident, from becoming another major environmental and social disaster on the island. Investigations of previous events show a distinct pattern of human causes, that is why it is better not to head into the mountains, because even small accidents can generate a fire, as almost happened from a motor engine just a few weeks ago up in Artenara, after a van caught fire and a helicopter had to cool and douse the adjoining slopes to avoid the worst, and, say the cabildo, this has not been the only case.
The island government maintains surveillance, prevention and extinction operations with 240 professionals fully alert, two helicopters based in Artenara, which in this case will also be deployed to spot any type of non-compliance from the air, capturing coordinates and reporting to Environment agents.
Clear in general, some interval of low clouds on the north coast during the early hours. Calima predicted, without significantly affecting visibility on the ground. Minimum temperatures unchanged or rising slightly. Maximum temperatures rising, more pronounced inland and at the summits. In the east, south and west midlands, as well as in the Tejeda basin, maximums in the shade will exceed 34ºC, and may reach 36ºC in some places. Moderate northeast winds, somewhat more intense on southeast and northwest slopes. Breezes predominate on northeast and southwest coasts. At the summits, light wind with a southerly component.
Clear in general, some low clouds on the north coasts during the late hours. Calima at altitude, without significantly affecting visibility on the ground. Minimum temperatures again rising slightly, more pronounced in the southern midlands. Maximum temperatures rising slightly especially to the south. In the northern, eastern, southern and western midlands, as well as in the Tejeda basin, maximum temperatures will exceed 34ºC in the shade, and may reach 38ºC in the southern midlands. Minimum temperatures will be between 24 and 30ºC in these areas. Moderate northeast winds, with strong intervals in the afternoon on southeastern and northwestern slopes. Breezes predominate on the northeast and southwest coasts. At peaks, light wind from the east turning to moderate northeast during the afternoon.
On the northern shorelines of the island, some cloudy intervals are expected. Elsewhere a predominance of clear skies. Low probability of Calima at height, giving way during the morning. Temperatures down slightly, decreases more pronounced on the northern slopes of the island. Moderate northeast winds with strong intervals.