Learning to understand and therefore predict the day's weather is
something which has occupied the minds of the madeirans themselves for
centuries. While it can take a lifetime to become fully proficient in
the subtleties of Atlantic cloud formations, and so knowing whether to
take that waterproof jacket or not, there are some basic trends in the
weather that the visitor should know about.
Madeira's capital, Funchal, occupies a natural coastal basin on the
south coast of the island and, as such, is sheltered. The weather in
and around the town (and to a lesser extent along the whole south
coast) is typically warmer and sunnier than on the north of the island.
It is also not uncommon for Funchal to be warm when the hills above the
town are cloaked in cloud.
2) Because of the prevailing
north-easterly wind, the north coast is usually windier and cooler than
the south and this can sometimes make life a little harder on northerly
walks along Madeira's ‘Levadas' (the Island's famous network of
irrigation canals). The sea also tends to be rougher.
Santo, Madeira's sister island 40 miles to the north-west, is drier and
flatter than its neighbour. As a result it is hotter and windier than
Madeira. Between July and October the weather on the island is often
dry and sunny – no matter what the weather in Madeira. Locals and
visitors alike take advantage of this fact to enjoy Porto Santo's long
beaches. It should be noted, however, that even when the weather is
good, the sea (and therefore the ferry crossing to the island from
Madeira) can be rough.
4) In springtime, an
occasional wind blows from the Sahara – known as the ‘Vento do Leste'.
This can make the coastal regions hot, humid and dusty. The wind
usually only lasts a few days.
from any direction is usually a sign of coming change. When the air is
calm, one can be reasonably confident nothing is brewing.
are really only two golden rules when it comes to Madeira's weather.
The first is to be prepared – always take waterproofs with you on any
excursions, particularly outside the summer months when the weather can
be especially changeable. The second is to be philosophical – there is
nothing you can about any cloud, wind or rain – and just as it arrives
suddenly on one day it can be gone the next.