Por­tu­gal de­clares hur­ri­cane alert

Gulf Times - - EUROPE -

Por­tu­gal placed most of the coun­try on red alert yes­ter­day as Hur­ri­cane Les­lie bar­relled to­wards its coast­line in what could be the fiercest storm to hit the coun­try since 1842.

Au­thor­i­ties urged those liv­ing by the coast to stay in­doors and fish­er­men to re­turn to port while some flights were can­celled over warn­ings winds could reach up to 120kph (75mph).

And neigh­bour­ing Spain was also mak­ing prepa­ra­tions, with me­te­o­rol­o­gists ex­pect­ing it to hit early to­day, although by then it was likely to have been down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm.

Global weather fore­cast­ing site Ac­cuWeather has dubbed Les­lie a “zom­bie hur­ri­cane” as it first formed on Septem­ber 23 “and has been me­an­der­ing the waters of the At­lantic Ocean for weeks”.

But it was ex­pected to make land­fall in Por­tu­gal yes­ter­day, with strong winds and rain ex­pected in the early evening, with the most se­ri­ous con­di­tions likely overnight or this morn­ing.

Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal records in­di­cate that only five hur­ri­canes have ever ar­rived in this part of the At­lantic Ocean, and Les­lie could turn out to be the fiercest storm to hit Por­tu­gal since 1842.

The ex­act tra­jec­tory of the hur­ri­cane, how­ever, re­mains un­cer­tain due to the pres­ence of an­other storm ap­proach­ing the re­gion from the north, Por­tu­gal’s me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal in­sti­tute said.

Mar­itime au­thor­i­ties have ad­vised fish­er­men cur­rently at sea to re­turn to the near­est port and Por­tu­gal’s TAP air­line can­celled seven flights to and from Lis­bon.

“We don’t know what the real and con­crete im­pact will be, so we’re erring on the side of cau­tion,” Lis­bon’s mayor Fer­nando Me­d­ina told re­porters.

Over the past 176 years, only Hur­ri­cane Vince has made land­fall on the Ibe­rian penin­sula, hit­ting south­ern Spain in 2005, ac­cord­ing to weather records cited by ex­perts.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, strong winds from Hur­ri­cane Ophe­lia, which trav­elled north off the coast of Por­tu­gal and west­ern Spain, fed forest fires that killed around 40 peo­ple dur­ing a heat­wave.

Ophe­lia then made land­fall in Ire­land as a vi­o­lent storm, killing three peo­ple.

While Les­lie is likely to be down­graded to storm cat­e­gory when it hits west­ern Spain to­day, au­thor­i­ties still warned that it could cause dam­age as it adds on to other ac­tive weather fronts.

Spain’s civil pro­tec­tion agency said storms in the south and east of the coun­try could be “very strong lo­cally” and that heavy rain was ex­pected in the north and east.

On Tues­day, in­tense rain sparked flash floods in the Span­ish hol­i­day island of Ma­jorca, killing 12 peo­ple.

Rivers burst their banks and swamped homes, leav­ing road­sides strewn with wrecked ve­hi­cles and beaches cov­ered in de­bris.

With the new storms ap­proach­ing, the civil pro­tec­tion agency ad­vised peo­ple to se­cure doors and win­dows in an­tic­i­pa­tion of strong winds and to avoid go­ing near trees, cranes or build­ings un­der con­struc­tion.

A warning sign is dis­played at Costa da Ca­parica, near Lis­bon.

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