Hurricane Leslie could turn out to be the fiercest to hit Portugal since 1842, meteorologists warned on Saturday as the storm approached, packing winds up to 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour).
The severe “red” warning applied to 13 of Portugal’s 18 mainland districts. Its impact was expected through Saturday night into Sunday.
The Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) said Leslie on landfall would loose intensity and pass to the category of “post-tropical storm.”
Portugal’s National Protection Agency advised residents to “avoid at all costs walking on the street.”
Gale-force winds and flash floods were forecast from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
It said Leslie would produce rainfalls of 25 to 75 mm (1 to 3 inches) and at some locations as high as 125 mm (5 inches), which would cause flash flooding.
Throughout the weekend, Leslie’s ocean swells were also expected to wrack Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands.
Experts warned of “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Spawned in the western Atlantic
The Category 1 storm — centered 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of Lisbon early Saturday, local time — had been spawned in the western Atlantic two weeks ago before heading toward the Iberian Peninsula.
Hurricanes formed on the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive force to Europe. Only five are on record, including Hurricane Ophelia whose air mass fueled forest fires in Portugal and Spain in 2017.
Spanish meteorologists expected Leslie to reach Spanish mainland territory early Sunday before weakening to a tropical storm.
Spain’s Mediterranean island of Mallorca [Majorca] is still recovering from massive rainfalls and flash floods, especially in its eastern coastal regions, last Tuesday that killed 12 people, including tourists from Germany.
ipj/rc (AFP, dpa, AP)