It snowed on a number of occasions and many parts of the island were covered with an inch of snow which settled and lasted for a couple of days, as these photos show.
Previously, the coldest February recorded by the Balearic Meteorological Centre had been in 2005 with an average temperature of 8.6 degrees. Also of note, the Meteorological Agency in Ciutadella, recorded an average minimum temperature for February of only 4.9 degrees, lower than usual for Menorca.
Despite these figures, the Balearic Meteorological Centre say they don’t reflect a progressive cooling of winters. On the contrary, the trend is that overall temperatures are rising throughout the year but are more difficult to detect in winter when the increase is slower. In addition, they say the freezing cold air that hit Europe from Siberia had a huge impact on temperatures and therefore records for this February do not predict colder winters than usual.
After over three weeks of enduring sustained cold weather, the last week of February saw a dramatic change to everyone’s relief as the sun came out and temperatures rose, often rising to 15 or 16 degrees and feeling much warmer in the sun. This lasted into the first few days of March, with wonderful sunshine and gentle breezes for Balearic Day on the first, after which the colder weather and winds returned with a vengeance as the Tramontana winds blew in full force. The forecast after the second week is looking much better with temperatures hovering around 17 degrees, so hopefully spring is finally around the corner. Although only really bad for a few weeks, it’s seemed like a long winter in Menorca.
As weather patterns change, it is virtually impossible to predict what weather you can expect, either in winter or in summer and especially on an island. Its exposed easterly position in the Mediterranean means Menorca is subjected to all sorts of meteorological influences, a dull rainy start for example can so often end in a beautiful sunny afternoon. Generally marketed as a sun and beach holiday destination, many people think that Menorca in winter and leading into spring is much warmer than it actually is. Nevertheless, there are very few days when the sun doesn’t show its face at all and when it does, it’s warmth is instantly apparent. What is certain is that on almost all occasions, Menorca is warmer than the UK and the sun shines considerably more, making it a great spring break destination, especially for those who enjoy getting out in the fresh air, whether on foot, bike or horseback.
However, the same question always persists, “what will the weather be like…?” Well, the only sure weather report is a Weather Review, so bearing in mind that each year is different, here is an overview of last year’s spring weather which, while not much use, may give an indication of what to expect.
After a great start to the year weather-wise with temperatures for the first three weeks of January well above the average of 13 degrees, often reaching 16 or 17 degrees, this changed dramatically for the rest of the month, with rain and strong biting northerly winds rising to 90 kph and overnight temperatures falling as low as 1.7 degrees. The start of February saw the rain and northerly winds continue with temperatures 3 degrees below the normal of 10.7 degrees. The next few days were bright and sunny with temperatures 5 degrees higher and continued with daytime temperatures of around 15 degrees (photo shows the same lemon tree as with snow this year and which, exactly a year previously, had also been covered with snow…!). The weather then remained unsettled for the rest of the month with some rain and strong winds and some good days. Official figures recorded a normal average temperature for January as the warm start to the month balanced out the colder weather, and that February was colder and wetter than usual.
March got off to a bad start with the Balearic Day fiesta a wash-out and a Tramontana wind blowing at 76 kph. Apart from a few good days when temperatures reached 14 to 16 degrees, bad weather prevailed and there were even hail storms. After the second week, the weather really picked up with temperatures of 17.7 degrees recorded and the first day of spring on 21 March was excellent. The last week saw much higher temperatures of around 15 degrees and less rain than average, with hardly a cloud in the sky and even reaching over 18 degrees on a the last few days. In summary, March was wetter than average but as warm as average, based on a cooler start and warmer finish.
April started with excellent temperatures and constant sunshine reaching over 21 degrees at the end of the first week due to the hot, dry air sweeping in from Africa. Although temperatures then dropped a little with cool winds and some rain on a few days, the weather remained fine and warm for the time of year. Sadly, this didn’t last until the long Easter holiday period which combined Easter, the Royal Wedding and the May Bank Holiday. So, while the UK enjoyed well above average temperature, Menorca’s weather took a turn for the worse, with a grey and wet Maundy Thursday. Things picked up on Good Friday, but it felt much cooler than the 19.5 degrees recorded, and continued through to Easter Sunday when the miserable weather returned for the next few days with temperatures of 17 degrees, improving slowly in the build up to the Royal Wedding. However, although fairly sunny, the cold wind on 29 April made it difficult for garden parties and it continued cool over the holiday weekend. Despite this, the Balearic Islands registered 2 degrees above average and Spain as a whole enjoyed the hottest April for the last 50 years, mainly due to the hot air spreading up from Africa earlier in the month and very little wind.
May Day itself was quite warm and sunny but the next day was miserable with showers of dirty rain and temperatures as low as 17.8 degrees. Things then changed very much for the better and despite wind and heavy rain on two days, the island enjoyed excellent weather until the beginning of the third week with the arrival of strong winds and isolated showers. It remained unsettled, but not too bad, until 22 June which was hottest day of the year at 26 degrees. The hot weather continued for the next few days, climbing to over 29 degrees in Ciutadella, but was fairly windy on occasions (fantastic weather for the Red Arrows visit on 25 May, which began the 300th anniversary celebrations of the British Naval Hospital on the Isla del Rey). The temperature dropped during the last few days to around 23 degrees and there was a little light rain on a couple of days. May was officially 2.9 degrees above average for Spain as a whole, making it the third hottest May since records began in 1950.
With thanks to Steve Morgan for his ‘lemons with and without ice’ photographs and to RTG Images for the wild flower and Cala Pregonda shots.