Storm Leslie: Portugal hit by hurricane-force winds

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Branches of trees are seen on a street storm Leslie goes past in Lisbon, Portugal October 14, 2018.Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The storm passed through the capital Lisbon

Hurricane-force winds have brought down hundreds of trees and left more than 15,000 homes without power in Portugal.

The remnants of Hurricane Leslie swept into the centre and north of the country overnight on Saturday.

There have been no reports of deaths or injuries, but officials have warned people not to venture outdoors, and a number of flights have been cancelled.

The storm, one of the most powerful to ever hit the country, is now heading over northern Spain.

Winds gusting up to 176km/h (109mph) were recorded after the storm struck the mainland.

Most of the power cuts are in Leiria district and on the outskirts of the capital, Lisbon, although other areas are affected too.

Hundreds of people remained in an arts centre in Figueira da Foz after a concert because of the high winds.

Sunday’s Lisbon marathon is still expected to take place, though with an hour’s delay to the start, Spain’s El Pais reported.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to reach the Iberian Peninsula, and it is thought this could be the most powerful to hit Portugal since 1842.

However, Hurricane Leslie, which formed on 23 September, was downgraded to a tropical storm before it made landfall.

The Spanish Meteorological Agency (Aemet) said Leslie was likely to move north-east through the Iberian peninsula, with affected Spanish regions seeing wind speeds of up to 100km/h and heavy rainfall.

However it said its exact trajectory was uncertain, probably entering Spain near the city of Zamora.

Amet said on Sunday morning large areas of Asturias, Castille and León and Cantabria would be affected, with north-eastern areas hit in the afternoon.

Hurricanes

A guide to the world’s deadliest storms

Hurricanes are violent storms that can bring devastation to coastal areas, threatening lives, homes and businesses.

Hurricanes develop from thunderstorms, fuelled by warm, moist air as they cross sub-tropical waters.
Warm air rises into the storm.

Air swirls in to fill the low pressure in the storm, sucking air in and upwards, reinforcing the low pressure.

The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane – in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific – or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Well, we’re about to get punched in the face.”
Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn, ahead of Hurricane Irma (2017)

The central eye of calmer weather is surrounded by a wall of rainstorms.
This eyewall has the fastest winds below it and violent currents of air rising through it.

A mound of water piles up below the eye which is unleashed as the storm reaches land.
These storm surges can cause more damage from flooding than the winds.

“Urgent warning about the rapid rise of water on the SW FL coast with the passage of #Irma’s eye. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!”
Tweet from the National Hurricane Center

The size of hurricanes is mainly measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale – other scales are used in Asia Pacific and Australia.

Winds 119-153km/h
Some minor flooding, little structural damage.
Storm surge +1.2m-1.5m

Winds 154-177km/h
Roofs and trees could be damaged.
Storm surge +1.8m-2.4m

Winds 178-208km/h
Houses suffer damage, severe flooding
Storm surge +2.7m-3.7m

Hurricane Sandy (2012) caused $71bn damage in the Caribbean and New York

Winds 209-251km/h
Some roofs destroyed and major structural damage to houses.
Storm surge +4m-5.5m

Hurricane Ike (2008) hit Caribbean islands and Louisiana and was blamed for at least 195 deaths

Winds 252km/h+
Serious damage to buildings, severe flooding further inland.
Storm surge +5.5m

Hurricane Irma (2017) caused devastation in Caribbean islands, leaving thousands homeless

“For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life.”
Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin ahead of Hurricane Gustav, 2008



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