Hurricane Leslie Approaches Portugal and Spain

(LISBON, Portugal) — 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 315 kilometers (195 miles) southwest of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Leslie’s maximum sustained winds were 75 mph (120 kph) and those hurricane-force winds extend outward for 95 kilometers (60 miles).

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.

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