The Blue Skies of Madrid: some weather expressions

In Spain when we talk about meteorology we use two words: “el tiempo” and “el clima”. “El tiempo” refers to the short- term changes in the atmosphere at any specific time, and the climate is referring to long-term changes in a specific place. If, for example we say “hace sol”, it’s sunny, we are talking about  “el tiempo”. If we say, “In summer it’s hot in Spain”, we are talking about “el clima”.

“El tiempo” – the weather – is a common topic of conversation with a lot of expressions that help to express yourself and which are often amusing exaggerations.

In the autumn and winter months, we may hear some of these expressions:

Hace rasca (It’s pretty cold)

This expression is used when it is not too cold yet but it is colder than expected. It‘s when we start needing to rug up against the cold.


Hace un frío que pela  (It’s freezing)

It’s very cold now. The temperature can go way down in autumn and it can be windy too.


Hace un tiempo de perros (The weather is nasty)

It’s a very unpleasant day. It might be windy, it could rain a little, be cold and cloudy.


Hace un frio que cala (It’s bone-wrenchingly cold)

Cala means to soak or wet. This is an expression that is used when not only is it cold but there is moisture in the air and it feels damp, as a result it feels colder.


It doesn’t rain very often in Madrid but on the odd occasion that it does, we might also hear these expressions:

Hay calabobos (Drizzle)

Calabobos is a type of very light rain. It seems like it isn’t raining but if you stay outdoors for a while you end up wet. Another way to call this rain is sirimiri.


Esta chispeando (Light showers)

When we say “está chispeando” we mean it is raining a few drops. Sometimes it rains and then it stops. Other times it rains lightly and then more heavily.


Llueve a cántaros  (It’s pouring)

This expression is used when it is raining heavily. A cántaro is a large metal or clay container which was used to store liquid as well as fetch water from a fountain.


Caen chuzos de punta (It’s pelting down)

This is another way to say that is it raining a lot. A chuzo is a metallic iron tool that was used as a weapon; a spiked stick. It is long with a pointy end. Obviously, this is an exaggerated expression.


What is not an exaggeration to say is that the sky of Madrid is blue and the sun shines in the autumn cold. Take advantage of the off season and enjoy the blue sky.

Curso Intensivo Español

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