Greetings from Funchal - Madeira Island - Portugal

Discussion in 'Portugal' started by SaturnStar, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. SaturnStar

    SaturnStar New Member

    Anything you would like to know about Madeira Island - Portugal...
    You are invited to ask..
  2. dfg34

    dfg34 New Member

    How about the Madeira Island weather in late Feb to mid March. Any good for big game fishing?
  3. SaturnStar

    SaturnStar New Member

    Greetings dfg34...

    Madeira Islands Weather Overview

    The Madeira Islands are an autonomous region of Portugal and lie in the Atlantic Ocean just under 1000km southwest of its coast and about 600kms west of Morocco in North Africa. Although geographically closer to Africa, the islands are culturally and politically part of Europe. You can also find the Canary Islands about 350km to the south of the Madeira Islands.

    There are fourteen islands and islets that make up the Madeira archipelago. The main one is Madeira Island, and other sizeable ones include Porto Santo Island and Deserta Grande Island. Most tourists visit Madeira Island, flying into its capital city Funchal.

    Madeira Island is not large, having a length of about 30 miles and a width of about 13 miles. It is a mountainous island with a mountain chain forming its backbone and rising to it’s highest peak Pico Ruivo at an altitude of 1862m. There are many great beaches and dramatic sea cliffs including the world’s second highest, Cabo Girão.

    Madeira’s climate consists of hot dry summers and mild winters with rainfall. In general April to September is dry, and October to March wet. The climate is classified as oceanic subtropical.

    The warm seas around the island help dictate the climate and mean an absence of extreme hot or cold temperatures. The Gulf Stream that brings warm waters across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico helps to ensure the mild winter temperatures. The cooling sea breezes allow for agreeable summer temperatures. Humidity generally stays at very comfortable levels on the islands and is stable year round at between 64-68% on average.

    The region’s prevailing winds also have a strong influence on the islands. The main wind is the north east trade wind that comes down from the Portuguese coast. This keeps temperatures at comfortable levels and is frequent in summer, bringing cooler air to the islands. The trade winds are caused by hot air rising to high altitudes over the equator. This air travels north, then sinks and cools before reaching the Madeira Islands.

    Another wind to play its part in the climate is the hot Leste wind that blows from the Sahara Desert in North Africa. This wind does not prevail often but when it does Madeira experiences in hottest temperatures.

    The different islands receive pretty similar weather, but there are some slight differences. Those islands lying further north are very slightly cooler and wetter as the weather usually comes from the north east. On Madeira Island the mountains in the centre do cause slightly different weather across the island. The capital city Funchal lies on the south of Madeira Island and sees slightly warmer and drier conditions thanks to the shelter afforded by the mountains to the north. As the weather usually comes from the northeast it means the north and east coasts are the coolest and wettest, and the south and west a little warmer and drier. Occasionally bad weather can come form the west in the form of Atlantic storms. These aren’t frequent and usually occur in late autumn and winter and mean the west gets the majority of the rain while the east remains drier. Since the mountains are high they can have enough influence on the weather that it can be raining on one side of the island but sunny on another.

    These differences are not huge however and this is what you can generally expect from the different seasons of the year:


    This is, as you’d expect, the most popular time to visit the Madeira Islands. The weather is almost always is almost always hot and sunny and rainfall is low. It is perfect beach holiday weather.

    June to September is classed as the summer period, although the months either side often see great weather as well. Daily highs in summer generally average in the mid 20s, although it can get into the 30s in the hot winds from Africa prevail. At the other end of the scale, the temperature rarely drops below the high teens even at night.

    Summer temperatures are usually very comfortable since the cooling sea breezes prevail most often to ensure relief from scorching temperatures.

    It can occasionally get very hot in Madeira, when the Leste wind blows from North Africa. Temperatures around 40°C have been recorded. This wind does only prevail a few times a year on average but it is well known for its ability to bring scorching temperatures.

    Rainfall is very low in the summer months. On Madeira Island it averages just 5mm in June, while July and August can often go without any rainfall whatsoever. Rainfall increases a little from September and that month averages 25mm.


    Temperatures throughout autumn are warm, although there is an increased chance of rainfall. October and November still enjoy daily highs in the low to mid 20s and it rarely drops below the mid teens. It is not uncommon even to see temperatures in the high 20s and the weather is generally better than mid-summer in England. Many find autumn a great time to visit as you get good weather as well as fewer crowds and cheaper prices.

    In October average rainfall increases to around about 80mm in the coastal areas and a little more in the central highlands. November is the wettest month of the year averaging towards 100mm. Typically however, this rain is spread over only about one week of the month since it falls in short heavy downpours; you don’t get the constant grey drizzly days common in other parts of Europe. Late autumn and winter is the time when storms are most likely to hit, and they can bring heavy rain and strong winds for a couple of days.


    It is hard to describe this period as ‘winter’, since daytime temperatures are frequently around 20°C and rarely fall below 10°C. On top of that you get a healthy amount of sunshine in winter too; winter days average between 5 and 6 sunshine hours a day.

    Rainfall is similar to late autumn with about 80-100mm falling on average. Again the number of rainy days during the winter is low as heavy storm rainfall accounts for the majority of precipitation. January and February see rainfall drop away a little.

    The great winter weather with good temperatures and plenty of sun make Madeira a popular destination for people looking to escape the harsh winters of northern Europe.


    Spring can start off a little wet and have cool nights and early mornings, but things rapidly warm up and summer weather is not long in arriving. March signals the end of the islands wetter period and heavy showers can still feature. By April these decrease and late spring is dry and summer-like.

    March sees highs towards 20C and night time temperatures in the low teens. April is a touch warmer and sees more sunshine, while May can almost be classed as a summer month with its excellent warm and sunny weather.

    Spring, especially later in the season, can be a great time to visit as the weather is good and the crowds are fewer than the summer months.

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