Hurricane Leslie bears down on Portugal, Spain

October 13, 2018 - 4:01 pm

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

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, the capital. Forecasters said sections of Portugal would see near hurricane-force winds, while parts of western Spain could be hit with tropical storm-force winds.

The Category 1 hurricane's maximum sustained winds were 75 mph (120 kph) and its hurricane-force winds spread out for 95 kilometers (60 miles), the U.S National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

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."

A tropical storm warning was discontinued for the Madeira archipelago. But Leslie was 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.

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