Hurricane Leslie churns toward Portugal, Spain

Posted at 12:56 PM, Oct 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-13 12:56:58-04

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Hurricane Leslie churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday heading toward Portugal and Spain, with forecasters saying the storm will bring heavy rain, high winds and dangerous surf to western parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

Forecasters said sections of Portugal will see near hurricane-force winds, while parts of western Spain are expected to be hit with tropical storm-force winds.

The Category 1 storm was 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Leslie was moving northeast at 38 mph (61 kph) and its maximum sustained winds are 75 mph (120 kph).

Portugal’s weather service issued red warnings — its highest level— for high winds or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts, including Lisbon, where it said the storm’s effects will start to be felt around 6 p.m.

A tropical storm warning was discontinued for the Madeira archipelago.

The weather service warned that gusting winds could potentially reach speeds of 190 kph (118 mph) along the Portuguese coast overnight and early Sunday. Luis Belo Costa of Portugal’s National Protection Agency recommended that people “avoid at all costs walking on the street.”

Leslie is still expected to generate ocean swells that will affect Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands throughout the weekend, in addition to the Atlantic coasts of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Forecasters said the swells are likely to bring “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

Leslie is a bit of a weather outlier, since hurricanes that regularly batter the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive force across to Europe.