Skip to content

Storm Leslie Hits Portugal

October 15, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Hurricane-force winds have struck central and northern Portugal, leaving 300,000 homes without power.

The remnants of Hurricane Leslie swept in overnight on Saturday, with winds gusting up to 176km/h (109mph).

Civil defence officials said 27 people suffered minor injuries, with localised flooding, hundreds of trees uprooted and a number of flights cancelled.

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

The worst-affected areas in Portugal were around the capital, Lisbon, and in the districts of Coimbra and Leiria. Aveiro, Viseu and Porto in the north also suffered damage.

About 1,000 trees have been uprooted, officials say. The main A1 motorway was among the roads temporarily blocked.

Some 1,900 incidents were reported to emergency services, although civil defence commander Luis Belo Costa said "the greatest danger has passed".

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

A resident of the town told SIC television: "I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried."

The roof blew off a stadium hosting the European final of the women’s roller hockey competition, halting the event, AFP news agency reported.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to reach the Iberian peninsula, with only five such events recorded.

Hurricane Leslie had formed on 23 September but was downgraded to a tropical storm before it made landfall. However, it retained gusts of hurricane strength.

The Spanish Meteorological Agency (Amet) said Leslie was moving north-east through the peninsula.

Gusts of almost 100km/h were recorded near the city of Zamora early on Sunday, but winds have now lessened.

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

Four departments in southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.


Although such an event is rare, it is by no means unprecedented, with a similar storm occurring in 1842, as Bloomberg reveal:

 In 1842, Spain was hit by a large storm that scientists concluded was a hurricane in a 2008 study


The 1842 storm certainly left a massive amount of damage in its wake, destroying several naval vessels and thousands of trees, according to reports at the time. Re-analysis suggests that it hit the Iberian Peninsula at hurricane force winds, and that it either became an extratropical storm shortly after landfall, or was even in the process of undergoing transformation during landfall.

  1. Chris, Leeds permalink
    October 15, 2018 11:17 pm

    In these days of satellites it is now possible to track Hurricanes from their first creation, right through to their decay to a tropical storm and then an extra-tropical storm… so the media can easily present the fact that ‘Hurricane hits spain, britain, portugal… whatever’. The reality is that presumably many, many, of our severe autumn storms in western europe have always had an origin as Hurricanes. As long ago as 1704 Daniel Defoe, writing of the Great Storm of the previous year, which caused horrendous damage across Britain, speculated that the storm may have had its origins in a storm noted in Florida some days before… He may well have been correct. And haven’t we always known that there is a difference between a storm with hurricane force winds and a true Hurricane?

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 15, 2018 11:28 pm

    Hurricane Vince almost made it to Iberia at full wack in the 2005 season, from wiki:-

    “It strengthened over waters thought to be too cold for tropical development.”

    Bang goes the theory!

    1724 seems to have had an exceptional Iberian storm too, unknown if it was tropical.

    Hurricane Debbie probably made it to Ireland in 1961.

    Iberian windstorm 1941 – 110mph.

    I’m sure loads of others have just been lost to history.

  3. October 16, 2018 12:45 am

    All these pictures of such events, albeit floods, high winds, hurricanes and even earthquakes, always show damage to cars. How sad that the news has to concentrate on things rather than people,

  4. JimW permalink
    October 16, 2018 2:51 am

    I commented earlier about how Lesley was almost ignored compared to the hype surrounding Michael. There is nothing unusual about Lesley, remember Bawbag in December 2011 , which was followed across the Scottish central belt by a stronger storm in January 2012.
    All of these ‘european’ hurricanes would have devastated the panhandle, build with paper mashie and expect it to fall down.
    Song produced to celebrate Bawbag

    • Ian Magness permalink
      October 16, 2018 9:38 am

      Very good Jim – thanks for that!

    • RAH permalink
      October 16, 2018 10:23 am

      There was one thing a bit unusual about Leslei. The thing wondered around the central Atlantic for over a week as a TS or Hurricane piling up the ACE points before it finally turned east for good.

  5. October 16, 2018 12:39 pm

    How about the little breeze in August, 1588 which scuttled the Spanish Armada?

    When looking for the month, I found this quote from Wikipedia:
    “The late 16th century and especially 1588, was marked by unusually strong North Atlantic storms, perhaps associated with a high accumulation of polar ice off the coast of Greenland, a characteristic phenomenon of the “Little Ice Age”. More ships and sailors were lost to cold and stormy weather than in direct combat.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: