It’s not just the British who love complaining about the weather, the Portuguese do their fair share of grumbling when it feels as though it’s been raining forever.
No one really minds a day or two of rain. After all, we all know how necessary it is in the scheme of things, especially those of us who have sweated through long dry summers.
By the third day of non-stop rain, however, the novelty has worn off and the garden and vegetable plots have had a thorough soaking. At this point we want our blue skies and sunshine back; they make it so much easier to deal with the day, both in practical terms and psychologically.
After a week of rainy days, everyone is noticeably grumpier and more lethargic.
After two weeks of pretty much constant downpours, the washing is piling up, water has found sneaky ways to enter buildings and rivers have broken their banks. River flooding is often thanks to dams further upstream releasing their overflow.
Each time this happens, the optimist in me keeps telling me that after two weeks, we should be due a respite, although I know from experience that we often get full months of solid rain. That said, even at these times, I usually manage to find a break in the rain every day that’s long enough to walk the dog without getting drenched.
During the worst times, we get some frighteningly bad storms and rain almost every day. I know Portugal isn’t the only country to suffer from severe weather conditions but since most people think of it as a sunny country, the shock of rough weather smacks us round the back of the head every time.
You can check weather forecasts and warnings on the IPMA website.
Also see this article about the best time of year to visit Portugal for a general overview of what to expect for each season.
It seems as though almost every year now, across the country, roads collapse, trees fall, giant waves and ferocious winds cause millions of Euros worth of damage and I’m always thankful not to have suffered personally.
We’ve had minor power cuts but as long as the internet works, so can I.
Expat Tip: If you’re moving to Portugal and wondering which internet provider to use, I’d strongly recommend anything that isn’t dependent on the phone lines.
The effects of prolongued rainy periods in Portugal
When dry days, let alone sunny ones, become scarce, it’s more than moods that suffer.
Despite the central heating, patches of mould have sprouted on our walls and both me and the dog tend to get fatter as our walks get shorter, and the River Alva is often flooded for weeks. The air is so damp that clothes won’t dry, even under cover.
I’m extremely glad we invested in a tumble dryer during a similarly rainy winter a few years ago. Another purchase that’s proved its worth is the dehumidifier, although I probably should have started using it before the mould, not after it.
Expat Tip: Most older Portuguese properties don’t have central heating so in practice, one room gets too hot while the others are freezing, and probably damp. If you can, you should seriously consider installing central heating. We went for a pellet stove so that we could programme it to start warming the house before we got home from work or a day out and we love it.
More rain in Portugal than in the UK
While we were bemoaning the rain, a Portuguese colleague surprised me by telling me that Portugal’s annual rainfall is actually greater than that of the United Kingdom. We just get it all in huge doses instead of spread throughout the entire year! While I haven’t managed to come up with exact figures to prove or disprove his claim, the UK does appear to get a lot less rain than I thought. Here’s the wikipedia link if you want more on that.
And there’s definitely more rain here than I expected. One consolation is the number of rainbows we get, often double ones. Sometimes, they even land in our garden but I always seem to be walking the dog when that happens. Now where did I leave my shovel…?
Expat Tip: If you want to practice your Portuguese weather vocabulary with a detailed local weather forecast that has plenty of images to help you understand it, try tempo.pt.